Michelle Obama Princeton Thesis

February 22, 2008

Word-searchable text of Michelle Obama’s Princeton thesis

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Below is a word-searchable text of Michelle Obama’s Princeton thesis unearthed by Politico. For a PDF copy, click here.

Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community
by

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson

A thesis

presented to Princeton University
in partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the degree of
Bachelor of Arts

in

Department of Sociology.
Princeton, New Jersey, 1985

(c) Michelle LaVaughn Robinson, 1985

I hereby declare that I am the sole author of this thesis.
I authorize Princeton University to lend this thesis to oth-
er institutions or individuals for the purpose of scholarly
research.

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson

I further authorize Princeton University to reproduce this
thesis by photocopying or by other means, in total or in
part, at the request of other institutions or individuals
for the purpose of scholarly research.

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson

Princeton University requires the signatures of all persons
using or photocopying this thesis. Please sign below, and
give address and date.

CONTENTS

DEDICATION iv

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS v

Chapter page

I. INTRODUCTION 1

II. HYPOTHESIS 4

Dependent Variables 4
Interaction Attitudes 4
Comfort and its Relationship to
Interaction Attitudes 5
Separationism/Pluralism and
Integrationism/Assimilationism 6
Benefit Attitudes 9
Change Over Time in the Dependent Variables 11
Independent Variables 15
Causal Model 18
Hypotheses 18

III. METHODS 22

Questionnaire 22
Measures of the Dependent Variables 22
Measures of the Independent Variables 24
The Sample 25

IV: FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION 26

Description of the Sample 26
General Attitudes of Respondents 27
Background of the Respondents 33
Explanatory Findings 36
Time vs. Ideologies 36
Time vs. General Comfort and Motivation
to Black Community 37
Association Between Time and Ideologies 39
Time and its Correlates 40
Association Between Ideologies and
Schools Attended 43
Associations between Ideologies and the
Dependent Variables 44

V. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS 51

Revised Causal Model 51
Major Conclusion 53
New Hypothesis 57

VI. APPENDIX 65

BIBLIOGRAPHY 66

DEDICATION

To Mom, Dad, Craig, and all of my special friends:

Thank-you for loving me and always making me feel good about
myself.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This thesis would not have been possible without the help
and guidance of my advisor, Professor Walter Wallace.

Thank-you Professor Wallace you have made me a much better
student.

I would also like to thank my respondents, members of the
ABPA, who participated in my study. It is good to know that
Black Princeton students can count on the support of the As-
sociation.

Special thanks to Mr. Steve Dawson, President of the ABPA,
and Mr. Richard Roper for their time and support.

Finally, I would like to thank Pat Larue and the Alumni Records
office for assisting me in mailing my questionnaires.

1

Chapter 1

INTRODUCTION

The purpose of this study is to examine various attitudes
of Black Princeton alumni in their present state and as they
are perceived by the alumni to have changed over time. This
study tries to examine the following attitudes of alumni:
the extent to which they are comfortable interacting with
Black and with White individuals in various activities; the
extent to which they are motivated to benefit the Black com-
munity in comparison to other entities such as themselves,
their families, God, etc.; the ideologies they hold with re-
spects to race relations between the Black and White commu-
nities; and feelings they have toward the Black lower class
such as a feeling of obligation that they should help im-
prove the lives of this particular group of Blacks.

As a future Black alumnus, this study is particularly in-
teresting because often times I take my own attitudes about
such issues for granted;. never pausing to reflect upon how
my experiences at Princeton may somehow have caused my atti-
tudes to change. This is important for Blacks in contempo-
rary society because as more Blacks begin attending predomi-
nately White universities it will be helpful to know how
their experiences in these universities affect their future

2

attitudes. In years to come if their attitudes do change,
is it possible, for example, that they will become more
comfortable interacting with Blacks or with Whites in vari-
ous activities? Will they become more or less motivated to
benefit the Black community? If there is a change in their
attitudes to what might it be attributed? Will they feel
any obligation as a member of the Black community to help
other Blacks in particular who are less fortunate than them-
selves?

Earlier in my college career, there was no doubt in my
mind that as a member of the Black community I was somehow
obligated to this community and would utilize all of my
present and future resources to benefit this community first
and foremost. My experiences at Princeton have made me far
more aware of my “Blackness” than ever before. I have found
that at Princeton no matter how liberal and open-minded some
of my White professors and classmates try to be toward me, I
sometimes feel like a visitor on campus; as if I really
don’t belong. Regardless of the circumstances underwhich I
interact with Whites at Princeton, it often seems as if, to
them, I will always be Black first and a student second.

These experiences have made it apparent to me that the
path I have chosen to follow by attending Princeton will
likely lead to my further integration and/or assimilation
into a White cultural and social structure that will only
allow me to remain on the periphery of society; never becom-

3

ing a full participant. This realization has presently,
made my goals to actively utilize my resources to benefit
the Black community more desirable.

At the same time , however, it is conceivable that my
four years of exposure to a predominately White, Ivy League
University has instilled within me certain conservative val-
ues. For example, as I enter my final year at Princeton, I
find myself striving for many of the same goals as my White
classmates–acceptance to a prestigious graduate or profes-
sional school or a high paying position in a successful cor-
poration. Thus, my goals after Princeton are not as clear
as before.

Is it possible that other Black alumni share these feel-
ings? Do most alumni experience a change in their atti-
tudes; and, if so, how are they likely to change? This
study will try to provide some answers to these questions.
However, before discussing the findings, it will be neces-
sary to define the variables of the study and explain the
methods used to measure these variables.

4

Chapter II

HYPOTHESIS

DEPENDENT VARIABLES

This. study focuses on four dependent variables which may
be divided into two attitude categories: 1) the extent to
which respondents to the questionnaire feel personally and
ideologically comfortable interacting with Blacks and with
Whites; and 2) the relative degree of motivation these re-
spondents have to benefit various entities–including the
Black community, themselves, their families, and the Ameri-
can community at large (which is, of course, predominately
White). Let us call these two categories “Interaction Atti-
tudes” and “Benefit Attitudes”.

Interaction Attitudes

There are two basic variables in this category. By in-
quiring about the relative comfort that the respondents feel
when interacting with both Blacks and Whites in various ac-
tivities, the study tries to provide some idea of the re-
spondents’ personal preferences when interacting with Blacks
and with Whites, and thus measures their degree of attach-

5

ment to individuals of different races. In addition, the
study also inquires about respondents’ ideological prefer-
ences regarding relations between the Black and White commu-
nities. Let us consider these two variables more closely.

Comfort and its Relationship to Interaction Attitudes

Webster’s Dictionary of English offers several key syno-
nyms for “comfort”, some of which are ease, pleasure, and
enjoyment. When one speaks of being “comfortable with”
someone or something, one often thinks of environments which
promote feelings of ease and with which one is familiar,
such as being in one’s own home or with one’s family and
close friends. More often than not, one finds comfort in
things with which one is familiar rather than in unfamiliar
things. It is also more likely that one is more attached to
to things with which one is familiar than to things with
which one is unfamiliar. Therefore, in the case of the re-
spondents, I argue that the relative sense of comfort they
may feel when interacting with Blacks in comparison to
Whites (and vice versa) in various activities reflects the
relative ease and familiarity the respondents feel with
Blacks in comparison to Whites which, in turn, indicates the
extent to which the respondents are personally attached to
Blacks as individuals in comparison to Whites as individu-
als.

6

It is important to point out that one’s attitudes about
race relations on an individual level have an important de-
gree of logical independence from one’s attitudes about race
relations on a community level. An individual who is more
personally comfortable with Blacks than with Whites on an
individual level need not hold political ideologies which
support the separation of Blacks and Whites on a community
level. Likewise, an individual who is personally more com-
fortable with individual Whites than with individual Blacks
may or may not hold ideologies which support the integration
of Blacks and Whites on a community level. Therefore, it is
necessary to measure attitudes towards relations between
Blacks and Whites on a community level (to be referred to as
“ideologies”) independently from personal attitudes towards
relations between Blacks and Whites on an individual level.
The variable to be discussed next tries to accomplish this
by mesauring the extent to which the respondents are separa-
tionist and/or pluralist or integrationist and/or assimilia-
tionist (to be referred to as sep/plur and int/assim).

Separationism/Pluralism and Integrationism/Assimilationism

Unlike the discussion of “comfort”.in the previous sec-
tion, literature defining concepts of sep/plur and int/assim
was found. Therefore, in order to demonstrate the role of

7

these concepts in this study, the following section will
draw on the writings of such authors as van den Berghe,
Billingsley, and Carmichael and Hamilton, to name a few,
whose writings utilize these concepts.

van den Berghe (1967), discusses the possibility of two
types of pluralism: 1)cultural structural pluralism in
which one finds different ethnic groups with their own lan-
guages, values, etc., but participating in a common social
structure (things people do together); and 2)social struc-
tural pluralism in which one finds shared languages and val-
ues across different ethnic groups each participating in its
own separate social structure.)1 These definitions of plural-
ism utilized by van den Berghe serve as a basis for using
the term “pluralism” as a measure of the respondents’s atti-
tudes about race relations between Blacks and Whites on a
community level.

The idea of separationism and pluralism (both cultural
structural and social structural) is also discussed by Bill-
ingsley (1968) who believes there is a need for Blacks to
build up their own communities; define themselves by new
“Black” standards different from the old White standards;
and exercise power and control over their own institutions
and services within the Black community.

1 Pierre van den Berghe, Race and Racism, (New York: Wiley),
1967: p. 35.

8
Stokely Carmichael and Charles Hamilton’s (1967) devel-
oped definitions of separationism in their discussion of
Black Power which guided me in the formulation and use of
this concept in the study.

The concept of Black Power rests on the fundamen-
tal premise: Before a group can enter the open
society, it must close ranks. By this we mean
that group solidarity is necessary before a group
can operate effectively from a bargaining position
of strength in a pluralistic society.’

Thus, Carmichael and Hamilton define separationism as a nec-
essary stage for the development of the Black community be-
fore this group integrates into the “open society”.

The idea of creating separate social structure and cul-
tural structures as suggested by these authors serves to
clarify definitions of separationism/pluralism as they func-
tion in the dependent variable which tries to measure the
respondents’ ideologies concerning political and economic
relations between the Black and White communities.

Conyers and Wallace (1976) embody the idea of Blacks
working with Whites as a plausible political and economic
ideology about relations between the Black and White commu-
nities. Their discussion focuses on representative integra-
tion which is the integration of Black official into various
aspects of politics. They discuss problems which face these
Black officials who must persuade the White community that
they are above issues of race and that they are representing

2 Stokely Carmichael and :Charles Hamilton, Black Power: The
Politics of Liberation in America, (New York: Vintage Books),
1967: p. 44.

9

all people and not just Black people. The idea of working
with Whites to form a common social structure and cultural
structure as opposed to creating two separate social struc-
tures and cultural structures discussed in the writings of
Conyers and Wallace have aided in the development of con-
cepts of integrationism and assimilationism as they function
in this study.

Benefit Attitudes

The second set of dependent variables in this study tries
especially to measure the extent to which the respondents
were motivated to benefit various social groups. The first
variable was designed to provide some idea of how interested
the respondents are in positively contributing to the Black
community relative to other social groups such as the White
community, their families, their occupations. The second
variable in this category was designed to measure the nature
of the respondents’ attitudes not toward the Black community
as an undifferentiated whole, but specifically toward mem-
bers of the lower class in that community. Let us consider
these variables a little more closely.

The study examines the respondents’ motivations to ben-
efit various individuals and groups of individuals, thereby,

10

measuring their value priorities. The study inquires about
the respondents’ motivations to benefit him/herself, and the
following social groups: the family, the Black community,
the White community, God and church, the U.S. society, the
non-White races of the world, and the human species as a
whole.

In an individual’s lifetime, it is necessary that the in-
dividual focus his/her interests on benefiting a limited
number of things at a time because it is impossible to help
everyone and everything equally at the same time. There-
fore, the individual must create a motivational hierachy
from which the individual can determine which social groups
are most important to benefit. Some individuals may place
the highest value on benefiting themselves or their fami-
lies. Others may value their occupational fields most high-
ly. Others may place God before everything else. In still
other instances, one’s motivation to benefit either the U.S.
society, the non-White races of the world or the human spec-
ies as a whole could be most powerful.

The desire to benefit the Black community as previously
mentioned, is also included in the list of subjective moti-
vations. However, this dependent variable did not differen-
tiate the Black community in any way because it tries to
measure the level of interest the respondents have in the
Black community as a whole in comparison to other possible
social groups as a whole. The variable discussed next tries
to make up for that.

11

The second benefit variable examines the respondents’
desire to benefit specifically the Black lower class rather
than examining attitudes towards the Black community as a
whole. This identification is useful because there is a
large segment of the Black community that is lower class and
as a result of the strong likelihood that respondents now
belong to classes higher and more powerful, politically and
economically, than the lower class largely because they have
graduated from Princeton University, it is interesting to
see what their attitudes are towards a large majority of
Blacks unlike themselves. Feelings of obligation to improve
the life of the Black lower class, feelings of guilt for be-
traying the Black lower class, as well as feelings of shame
or envy toward the Black lower class are investigated in
this study.

CHANGE OVER TIME IN THE DEPENDENT VARIABLES

By adding a measure for change over time the dependent
variables may be.studied both in their present perceived
state and as they are perceived by the respondents to have
changed over time. The study accomlishes this measure of
change by dividing the respondents’ lives into three peri-
ods: “Pre-Princeton” (years before entering college),
“Princeton” (years in college), and “Post-Princeton” (years

12

after graduating from college).3

It is important to realize that the change measured is
that which is perceived by the individual; an introspective
measure of change. For example, the individual answering
the question may believe that he/she has changed in no way
at all, however, if someone else, possibly a family member,
were asked the same question about the individual, it is
possible that they would believe that the individual has
drastically changed over time.

The measure for change over time is focused around
Princeton because the study attempts to examine the effects
of a Princeton education on Blacks. Respondents are repre-
sentative of a small number of Blacks who attend predomi-
nately White universities and they also represent an even
smaller portion of Blacks attending Ivy League universities.
Unversities such as Princeton only began admitting Blacks in
the 1960’s and presently Blacks comprise only about 10% of
total enrollment. Due to the small number of Blacks in at-
tendance, the University does not often meet the social and
academic needs of its Black population because these univer-

3 For this study, change was computed for first, the Pre-
Princeton to Princeton period (to be referred to as “Pre-
to-Prin”) and then for the Princeton to Post-Princeton
period (to be referred to as “Prin-to-Post”). By calcu-
lating the difference between the number indicated by re-
spondents for Pre-Princeton point and the number indicated
by respondents for the Princeton point, it was possible to
estimate the change during the Pre-to-Prin period. Like-
wise the difference between the number indicated by the
respondents for Princeton point and the number indicated
for the Post-Princeton point shows the change during the
Princeton to Post-Princeton period..

13

sities focus their attentions on accommodating the White
students who comprise the majority of their enrollments.

Dejoie discusses the claims of the negative effects of
predominately White universities on the Black students at-
tending those universities. Although I was unable to find
empirical support for Dejoie’s essay, I feel the ideas she
expressed are worth some discussion.

Dejoie believes that “Institutional policies of predomi-
nately White universities have established practices which
favor the prefered groups and have ranked priorities which
are meant to facilitate the tasks and improve the conditions
of White students while ignoring the needs of the Black stu-
dents”.” Dr. Dejoie goes on in her study to discuss the ef-
fects of biased curricula which does not encourage,”…The
contribution of Blacks, the study of Blacks, as a group”.5
She states that Departments of Black Studies are kept very
separate from White university curricula. Dejoie also dis-
cusses the negative aspects of social and non-academic ac-
tivites at these schools: “Fraternities, sororities, home-
coming activities and student government maintain the White
status-quo. As in academic areas, the social aspects of
university life systematically follow the interests of the
White students–the majority group”.6

4 Dr. Carolyn Dejoie, “Low Morale in Higher Education: Blacks in
Predominately White Universities”, (source of article unknown).
5 Ibid.
6 Ibid.

14

As a result of such biases, both academic and non-academ-
ic, it is often difficult for some Black students to adjust
to Princeton’s environment; and unfortunately there are very
few adequate support groups which provide some form of gui-
dance and counsel for Black students having difficulty mak-
ing the transition from their home environments to Prince-
ton’s environment. Most students are dependent upon the use
of their own faculties to carry them through Princeton.
Therefore, it is important to understand exactly what kinds
of changes Black students undergo, if any, while in Prince-
ton.

For this study, the Pre-Princeton measure provides a
rough idea of what kinds of beliefs respondents held with
respects to the dependent variables before entering college
and the Post-Princeton measure provides some idea of what
respondents’ beliefs are after college. Thus, if findings
show consistency between the two periods (Pre-Princeton and
Post-Princeton), it may be possible that no change occured
as a result of their Princeton education, or possibly in
this case, Princeton’s effect on the respondents’ beliefs
lasted for a short time and then no longer effected their
attitudes, thus making these effects temporary. If findings
show some change through the periods, it may be possible
that their Princeton education influenced these changes.

15

INDEPENDENT VARIABLES

By measuring a number of independent variables, this
study will try to determine some correlates of the respon-
dents’ interest in interacting with Blacks and Whites on an
individual and a community level, as well as their interest
to benefit various social groups; the Black community in
particular. The independent variables of this study include
the following: the actual time the respondents spent inter-
acting with Blacks and Whites (to be referred to as “time”);
and the racial make-up of the individual’s primary and sec-
ondary schools, in addition to the racial make-up of the in-
dividual’s neighborhood; the race of the person whom the in-
dividual most admired throughout his/her lifetime; the
individual’s image of God; the number of books in the indi-
vidual’s home while growing up and presently; and the age
and sex of the individual. Therefore, although this study
examines several independent variables, as will be shown in
a later chapter, only a few independent variables were found
to have strong relationships to the dependent variables.
This section will discuss the independent variables found to
have the strongest relationship to the dependent variables
first, and will discuss the independent variables of the
study which are found to have no relationship to the depen-
dent variables last.

As will be demonstrated, the independent variables which
measure the actual time the indivdual spent with Blacks in

16

comparison to Whites throughout Pre-Princeton, Princeton,
and Post-Princeton years will be used as an independent
variable. This variable is related to several other inde-
pendent variables which measure the racial make-up of the
individual’s neighborhood in which he/she grew up as well as
the individual’s primary and secondary schools.

The individual’s past and present socio-economic status
is measured by the independent variable which asks for the
economic class in which the individual’s family belonged
when growing up, in addition to the individual’s career mo-
bility in comparison to the individual’s parents’ socio-eco-
nomic status.

Another independent variable measured in this study is
the race of the person whom the individual most admired
thoughout his/her lifetime. This variable enables one to
examine the influence of the race of the individual’s role
models on their attitudes with respect to the dependent
variables of the study.

A rough measure of literateness (tendency for an individ-
ual to include reading and writing as a major part of his/
her life) is attempted by the variable examining the number
of books in the individuals home while growing up and pres-
ently; and finally, age and sex of the individual will also
be measured.

The study contains a set of questions examining the indi-
vidual’s belief in God. This measure has been used in place

17

of the traditional measure which asks simply, “Do you be-
lieve in God? “requiring a “yes” or “no” response or “Which
bests describes your religious beliefs? Check one: Protes-
tant, Catholic, Jewish, Athiest, none of the above, other.”
Instead of examining whether or not the individual believes
in God, Piazza and Glock (1979) demonstrated that examining
the specific content of the individual’s beliefs as opposed
to measuring whether or not the individual believes in God
provides greater insight into the individual’s ideas about
God. The study found that when people answer “yes” or “no”
to the traditional measure of Belief in God, they do not all
mean the same thing; their conception of God varies. “Most
Americans Believe in a God, but this does not necessarily
imply that they have the same thing in mind”.7

In order to obtain a clearer idea of the content of the
individual’s religious beliefs, Piazza and Glock developed a
question that depends on three interrelated measures: the
extent to which the individual does or does not believe in a
God, the degree to which the individual believes God influ-
ences the way society is organized, .and the degree to which
the individual believes God influences the individual’s own
life.

7 Piazza and Glock, “Images of God and Their Social Mean-
ing”, Religious Dimensions, (New Jersey: Prentice Hall,
Inc.), 1979: p. 69.

18

CAUSAL MODEL

The diagram below represents the original hypothesized
relationships between the independent and dependent vari-
ables.

Ideologies

Comfort interacting with Blacks

(+)
Time — T

Motivations to benefit the Black community

Attitudes towards the Black lower class

(Diagram 1)

HYPOTHESES

It is my belief, as seen by the above causal model, that
the independent variable which measures the actual time the
respondents have spent throughout the three periods of their
lifetime with Blacks and with Whites will have a strong ef-
fect on the dependent variables of the study because the
more the individual spends time with a group of people, the
more the individual will be familiar with that particular
group of people. For example, if the study shows that more
respondents spend time with Blacks than with Whites during
each period of his/her lifetime, the study is likely to show
more respondents tend to be comfortable with Blacks than
with Whites when interacting in various activities.

19

I also further hypothesize that this sense of comfort
with Blacks will be greatest in all the activities measured
by this dependent variable except intellectual activites.
Intellectually, Blacks may be more comfortable with Whites
as a result of a greater amount of exposure to Whites in an
academic setting while at Princeton. Attending Princeton
has probably forced the respondents to compete intellectual-
ly with Whites more than with Blacks and, thus, they have
probably become more familiar with Whites intellectually,
but in other activities they are not likely to have gained
familiarity with Whites if they did not spend time with
Whites in other activities besides intellectual ones.

As a result of this greater sense of comfort felt by re-
spondents with groups with whom they have spent more time,
more respondents will be interested in benefiting these par-
ticular groups in comparison to others. Thus, the variable
measuring time spent with Blacks or Whites will also influ-
ence the dependent variable measured by the respondents’ mo-
tivation to benefit various social groups. For example, re-
spondents who. have spent time with Blacks are likely to be
more comfortable with Blacks and will, therefore, take a
great interest in benefiting this group in comparison to
other social groups. Consequently, it is also likely that
these respondents are motivated to benefit self, their loved
ones (who are also likely to be Black) and the Black commu-
nity in comparison to other social groups indicated by this

20

variable. While Blacks who are more comfortable with Whites
than with Blacks will probably be less interested in ben-
efiting the Black community.

The more respondents spend time with Blacks, the more po-
sitive and compassionate they will be in their attitudes to-
wards lower class Black Americans, expressing strong feel-
ings of obligation to take part in improving their lives.
Feelings of obligation will also tend to be strong for
Blacks who have spent more time with Whites because of a
general sense of compassion towards all underprivileged peo-
ple. However, the feelings of pride in remaining apart from
their lives will be much stronger than their feelings of
pride in not remaining apart from their lives because these
respondents will show tendencies of downplaying the rela-
tionship between themselves and other Blacks.

The socio-economic status of the respondents’ parents in
addition to the individual’s career mobility are likely to
place these individual’s in social and economic arenas more
compatible with Whites, who make up a large segment of mid-
dle class Americans, because they will be able to afford all
of the luxuries typical of the White middle class. Thus,
the higher the class and the more upward the career mobili-
ty, the more comfortable these Blacks will be with Whites
than with lower class Blacks. Class and upward mobility
will probably influence the dependent variables in the same
way that time spent influenced the independent variables.

21

My overall hypotheses described in this section focuses
on the group with whom the respondents identify most. The
independent variables measure identification through such
questions as time spent with Blacks and Whites, socio-eco-
nomic class, career mobility, etc. The individual’s degree
of identification with either Blacks or Whites will deter-
mine his/her motivations to benefit various social groups,
his/her ideologies about race relations between the Black
and White communites, relative comfort felt by him/her when
interacting with Blacks and Whites, and his/her interest in
the Black lower class. The more the individual identifies
with the Black community the more his attitudes will sway
towards a positive relationship with the Black community,
however, the more the individual identifies with the White
community the more his attitudes will sway towards a neg-
ative relationship with the Black community. This idea of
identification will be discussed further in the Summary and
Conclusions chapter of this study.

22

Chapter III

METHODS

QUESTIONNAIRE

The first part of the questionnaire, questions 1, 3, 4,
and 5 measure the dependent variables, interaction and ben-
efit attitudes. The second part of the questionnaire, ques-
tions 2 and 6 through 19, measure the independent variables.

Measures of the Dependent Variables

Using a scale varying from feeling “much more comfortable
with Blacks” through feeling “about equally comfortable with
Blacks and Whites”, to feeling “much more comfortable with
Whites”, the first question of the study asked respondents
to indicate the relative degree of comfort they felt while
interacting with Blacks and Whites in various activities
during the three life-periods. The activities referred to
were as follows: “intellectual (discussing philosophical,
scientific, technical or artistic ideas”; “social (partying,
dining, going to shows and sports)”; “religious (sharing re-
ligious views, worshipping)”; “political (participating in
demonstrations, political campaigns and organizations)”;
“business (working on a paying job, as ‘subordinate and/or

23

superordinate)”; “dating (including all specifically sexual
activities)”; “sports and athletics (including keeping in
shape and competing)”; and “in general (considering all ac-
tivities)”.

Question 3 asked alumni to rate the contributions to
their behavior, during the three life-periods, of motiva-
tions to benefit various individuals and social groups. The
scale used for this question varied from feeling the motiva-
tion made “no” contribution to their behavior through feel-
ing the motivation made a “moderate” contribution to their
behavior to feeling the motivation made a “very strong” con-
tribution to their behavior. The individuals and social
groups referred to were as follows: self; loved ones; occu-
pation; God and church; local residential community; the
Black American community; the USA as a society; the non-
White races of the world; and the human species as a whole.

A similar scale was used to measure the respondents’
views during the three life-periods about relations between
the Black and White communities in the U.S. in question 4.
In this scale, alternatives ranged from being “very strongly
separationist and/or pluralist” through being “undecided” to
being “very strongly integrationist and/or assimilationist.

Question 5, the last measure of the dependent variables
asked respondents about their personal attitudes towards
lower class Black Americans. This question was broken into
a series of statements to which the respondents were asked

24

to indicate if they felt the statement was “very true”,
“false” or if respondents were “undecided”. Some of the
statements measured were as follows: “I feel proud that I
have been strong enough to avoid remaining in or falling
into, lower class life”; “I feel obligated to help improve
their life”; “I feel they must help themselves”.

Measures of the Independent Variables

The second part of the questionnaire consists of fourteen
questions aimed at measuring the independent variables of
the study (e.g., how much time spent with Blacks vs.
Whites). These questions are very straightforward and try
to provide a general description of the respondents. For
example, question 9 asks “Which of the following describes
your primary and secondary schools?” The choices are, all
or almost all Black, mostly Black, about equally Black and
White, mostly White, and all or almost all White. This
question, in addition to others like question 5 which asked
for the predominate racial make-up of the neighborhood in
which the respondents grew up, provide a general idea of the
types of racial associations the respondents had before en-
tering Princeton. Others such as those questionning respon-
dents’ current living arrangements, age, sex, and career mo-
bility in questions 16, 17, 18, provide a general picture of
the respondents’ ,present lifestyle. Questions 6, 7, and 8

25

measure the content of the respondents’ belief in God. These
questions asked the following: the respondents’ belief in
“God”, the influence of “God” in the respondents’ personal
life, and the respondents’ belief in the influence of “God”
on the way society is organized. These variables may be
combined to create new independent variables if desired.

THE SAMPLE

The sample of 400 Black Princeton alumni was obtained
from the Alumni Records Office at Princeton University.
With the permission of Steve Dawson, the President of the
Association of Black Princeton Alumni (ABPA) and his office,
the staff at the Alumni Records Office assisted the study by
selecting every fourth name on a mailing list of approxi-
mately 1200 names until 400 names were collected.

The questionnaire was sent through U.S. mail along with a
letter from the President of the ABPA, encouraging subjects
to participate in the study, and a stamped, self-addressed
envelope for the return of the questionnaire. The sample
consists of Black Americans who graduated from Princeton’s
undergraduate program. The total number of returned ques-
tionnaires was 89; thus, the response rate for this ques-
tionnaire was approximately 22%.

26

Chapter IV

FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION

DESCRIPTION OF THE SAMPLE

The following section intends to provide an idea of how
the alumni responded to the questionnaire in general. In
order to fully appreciate such a discussion one must keep in
mind the uniqueness of the individuals upon which this study
focuses. Not only are these respondents representative of
middle class Black Americans, but as some of the first
Blacks to be integrated into Princeton University(infamous
for being racially the most conservative of the Ivy League
Universities).

With 73% of respondents indicating that they were between
the ages of 25 and 34 years (see table 1), it is also proba-
ble that the majority of the respondents were attending
Princeton during the 1970’s when affirmative action which
provided numerous opportunities for Blacks economically, ed-
ucationally, and occupationally was put into effect. For
the first time since reconstruction Blacks were beginning to
be properly represented in such fields as politics, govern-
ment, medicine, education, etc. The Black Power Movement
was also strong during this time and as I have mentioned
earlier in the study, such leaders as Stokely Carmichael

27

were stressing the need for Blacks to separate themselves
from White society in order to strengthen the Black communi-
ty. Thus, it will be fascinating to find out what types of
Blacks decided to attend a prestigious, White university,
and how this education may have affected them.

General Attitudes of Respondents

In table 2, during the Pre-to-Prin period, the percentage
of respondents who reported spending more time interacting
with Blacks than with Whites rose sharply from 43% to 61%.
Yet, during the Prin-to-Post period, the percentage of re-
spondents spending time with Blacks dropped back down from
61% to 39%.

Data in. Table 2 only show percentages of respondents
spending time with Blacks and Whites for what shall be re-
garded, for the purposes of this study, as particular points
in time, i.e., Pre-Princeton, Princeton, and Post-Princeton.
One cannot know from these data, how individual respondents
changed between these points. This type of information is
available,: however, by examining Table 2a which shows the
percentage of respondents that (1) changed in the direction
of spending more time with Blacks, (2) made no change in
this respect, and (3) changed in the direction of spending
more time with Whites during the Pre-to-Prin and the Prin-
to-Post periods. Thus, Table 2a shows that during the Pre-

28

to-Prin period 46% of the respondents changed toward spend-
ing more time with Blacks, while only 26% changed toward
spending more time with Whites. During the Prin-to-Post
period, however, the percentage of respondents who changed
toward spending more time with Blacks dropped drastically by
15%.

Thus far in the findings, an interesting trend has al-
ready appeared which shows that the changes and differences
in the tables are related to something that happened to the
respondents while at Princeton. This belief will be dis-
cussed further in the conclusion section of the study.

Just as the percentage of respondents who spent more time
with Blacks than with Whites (and vice versa) appeared to
change during Princeton, the percentage of respondents who
reported holding sep/plur ideologies regarding relations be-
tween the Black and White communities also changed during
Princeton. In Table 3, from the Pre-Princeton point to the
Post-Princeton point the percentage of respondents who held
sep/plur ideologies greatly increased from 26% to 40%. Yet,
from the Princeton point to the Post-Princeton point this
percentage of respondents declined from 40% to 31%.

In Table 3a which shows the individual-level change in
ideologies over time, it is clear that 45% of the respon-
dents changed toward becoming more sep/plur in comparison to
only 16% who changed toward becoming more int/assim during
the Pre-to-Prin period. However, during the Prin-to-Post

29

period this 45% of respondents who changed toward becoming
more sep/plur dropped to 19%, while the 16% of respondents
who changed toward becoming more int/assim rose to 32%.

The data in tables 3 and 3a demonstrate that not only did
the percentage of respondents who spent more time with
Blacks than with Whites increase during Princeton, but there
was also an increase in the percentage of respondents who
held sep/plur ideologies.

Interestingly enough, the percentage of respondents who
were motivated to benefit the Black community increased from
46% at the Pre-Princeton point to 63% at the Princeton
point, and remained drastically unchanged (64%) Post-Prince-
ton (see Table 4.3).

The change over time as seen in Table 4.3a shows that the
35% of the respondents becoming more motivated to benefit
the Black community during the Pre-to-Prin period decreased
to 13% during the Prin-to-Post period, and similarily, the
10% of respondents becoming less motivated to benefit the
Black community increased to 20% during the same two peri-
ods. Thus, even though Table 4.3 shows roughly the same
percentage of respondents were motivated to benefit the
Black community Post-Princeton as Princeton, Table 4.3a
shows that during the Pre-to-Prin period the individual-lev-
el change was away from this motivation.

Findings in tables 4 and 4.1 are roughly similar to find-
ings in Table 4.3 for. respondents’ motivations to benefit

30

self and loved ones. However, for individual-level change
tables 4a and 4.1a, a larger percentage of respondents be-
came motivated to benefit self and loved ones during the
Pre-to-Prin and Prin-to-Post periods than they become less
motivated to benefit themselves and their loved ones. Thus,
becoming increasingly motivated to benefit self and loved
ones during both periods, but especially during the Prin-to-
Post periods, and especially toward benefiting self.

Occupational motivations, in table 4.2 show that during
Princeton, there was a larger percentage of respondents who
were not motivated to benefit their occupations in compari-
son to the percentages of respondents who are moderately mo-
tivated and motivated to benefit occupation. During Post-
Princeton, however, the percentage of respondents who were
strongly motivated to benefit occupation increased greatly
from 31% to 59%.

Tables 4.4 and 4.4a which show the percentage of respon-
dents who are motivated or were motivated to benefit God,
and the individual-level change in this motivation respec-
tively demonstrate an increase in the percentage of respon-
dents not motivated to benefit God; during the Pre-to-Prin
period; 40% during Pre-Princeton to 45% during Princeton,
which decreases during Post-Princeton from 45% to 41% (see
table 4.4). Table 4.4a shows that during Pre-to-Prin period
a larger percentage of respondents reported becoming unmoti-
vated to benefit God, than they were becoming motivated to

31

benefit God, but during the Prin-to-Post period a larger
percentage of respondents reported becoming motivated to
benefit God than they were becoming not motivated to benefit
God.

Tables 5 and 5.1 which show the percentage of respondents
feeling comfortable interacting with Blacks and Whites in
both intellectual and social activities provide data which
also appear to change during Princeton in comparison to Pre-
Princeton and Post-Princeton. Even though the change is not
drastic for intellectual activities, the 26% of the respon-
dents who were comfortable with Blacks rose to 37% from Pre-
Princeton to Princeton, and dropped back to 22% during the
Post-Princeton point. The pattern of group-level change for
social activities was similar: the change from the Pre-
Princeton to the Princeton point (64% and 73% felt more com-
fortable with Blacks at these times) was followed during the
Princeton point to the Post-Princeton point by an opposite
change (73%, and 62% felt comfortable with Blacks).

In tables 5a we find that 36% of the respondents reported
becoming intellectually more comfortable with Blacks, in
contrast to the 16% of the respondents who reported becoming
intellectually more comfortable with Whites during the Pre-
to-Prin period. During the Prin-to-Post period, however,
these figures were reversed, with only 10% becoming more
comfortable with Blacks while 31% became more comfortable
with Whites.

32

Similar individual-level changes in feelings of comfort
in social activities appear in table 5.1a. The 31% of re-
spondents who reported becoming comfortable with Blacks dur-
ing the Pre-to-Prin period decreased to 10% during the Prin-
to-Post period, and the 11% who reported becoming more
comfortable with Whites during the Pre-to-Prin period in-
creased to 31% during the Prin-to-Post period.

In table 5 we find that a larger percentage of the re-
spondents reported feeling equally comfortable with Blacks
and Whites in intellectual activities during each of the
three periods than reported feeling more comfortable with
Blacks or more comfortable with Whites. Indeed, comparing
intellectual comfort (table 5) with social comfort, dating
comfort, political comfort, and general comfort respondents
feel interacting with Blacks and Whites in tables 5.1, 5.2,
5.4, and 5.6, table 5 shows a greater percentage of respon-
dents who felt equally comfortable with Blacks and Whites
than in any of these other tables (which is closer to feel-
ing more comfort with Blacks) and also shows a smaller per-
centage of respndents who felt comfortable with Blacks in
comparison to any of the other comfort tables. The latter
supports the hypothesis that the comfort respondents feel
with Blacks will be greater in all activities accept intel-
lectual ones. However, it must be noted that for business
and sporting (see tables 5.3 and 5.5), percentages of re-
spondents reporting comfort with Blacks are also small in
comparison to tables (5.1, 5.2, 5.4, and 5.6).

33

Background of the Respondents

There was a split between the sexes; 60% of the respon-
dents were male and 40% were female (see table 6). Fifty-
one percent of the respondents were raised in homes which
were lower middle class; while 24% of the respondents were
raised in lower or under class households, and 24% were
raised in upper to upper middle class households (see table
7).

Table 8 shows that reading and writing became more apart
of the respondents’ lives after they left Princeton. The
seventy-four percent of respondents who indicated having 51
to over 100 books in their homes during the time they were
growing up increased to 89%, while the 25% of respondents
indicating living in homes with less than 50 books while
growing up decreased to 11%.
Sixty-five percent of respondents said they grew up in
all or mostly Black neighborhoods, 20% said they grew up in
all or mostly White neighborhoods, and 15% of the respon-
dents reported growing up in neighborhoods that were equally
Black and White. Fifty-one percent of the respondents re-
ported that they grew up in cities, 40% grew up in suburbs,
and only 9% reported growing up on a farm or in “open coun-
try”

34

Even though more respondents reported growing up in Black
neighborhoods many attended secondary schools whose popula-
tion was becoming less Black than White in comparison to
their primary schools. For example, the percents for re-
spondents who reported attending Black primary schools and
White primary schools were almost equal; 46% Black, 45%
White and 9% Black and White. However, for the secondary
schools, the percent of respondents reporting that they at-
tended White schools increased to 63%, while the percent of
respondents who reported they attended Black schools dropped
to 24%, and 13% attended schools that were equally Black and
White.

Although the schools the respondents attended during the
Pre-Princeton point became more White than Black, this trend
did not appear with respect to their present living arrange-
ments. Fifty-four percent of respondents reported living
with one or more Blacks, only 5% reported living with one or
more Whites, 4% reported living with one or more Blacks and
Whites, and 38% lived alone.

At all three times investigated in this study, respon-
dents reported admiring Blacks more than Whites. During the
Pre-Princeton point, 58% reported admiring a relative, while
30% reported admiring a Black friend, or Black fictional or
non-fictional person; and only 11% reported admiring a White
friend, or White fictional or non-fictional person. During
the Princeton point, 50% of the respondents reported admir-

35

ing a Black friend or fictional/non-fictional person, while
39% reported admiring a relative, and once again, only 10%
reported admiring a White friend or fictional/non-fictional
person. During the Post-Princeton point, 47% reported ad-
miring a relative, 44% reported admiring a Black friend or
fictional/non-fictional person, and 9% reported admiring a
White friend or fictional/non-fictional friend (see table
9).

Seventy-one percent of the respondents reported being in
careers that have made them upwardly mobile from their pa-
rents’ socio-economic class, while none of the respondents
reported being downwardly mobile from their parents’ socio-
economic class, and only 17% of the respondents reported re-
maining even with their parents’ socio-economic class; 12%
did not know yet how they were moving (see table 10).

With respect to belief in God, it appears that their gen-
eral belief in some kind of God was relatively high. Sixty-
two percent of the respondents said they definitely believe
in God, while only 6% reported that they do not believe in
God; .24% are uncomfortable with the word “God” but believe
in a.transcendent force; and 9% either do not know or are
uncertain. Seventy-one percent of the respondents believe
God influences their own lives, but only 43% of the respon-
dents believe that God influences the way society is organ-
ized.

36

EXPLANATORY FINDINGS

The strongest relationships found in this study focus on
two variables. The amount of time the respondents spent
with Blacks in comparison to Whites over the three periods
of the respondents’ lifetimes was found to be stongly relat-
ed to most of the dependent variables. However, it was also
found that the ideologies held by the respondents about de-
sirable race relations between the Black and White communi-
ties was also strongly related to most of the dependent
variables. Thus, it was helpful to determine which of these
variables was more closely related to the dependent vari-
ables.

Time vs. Ideologies

In order to determine which came first, time or ideolo-
gies, a new analysis was performed to obtain the relation-
ships in tables 11-11.3. Tables 11 and 11.2 show how close-
ly time is related to.ideologies, while tables 11.1 and 11.3
show how closely ideologies is related to time. This analy-
sis is done to determine whether time is a better predictor
of ideologies or whether ideologies is a better predictor of
time. The comparison of the relationships in these tables
demonstrate that there is no great difference between them.
For example, the difference between the 62% of respondents

37

who reported spending time with Blacks and holding sep/plur
ideologies and the 48% of respondents who reported spending
time with Whites and holding sep/plur ideologies in Table 11
was not much smaller than the difference between the 74% of
respondents who reported holding sep/plur ideologies and
spending time with Blacks and the 56% who reported holding
int/assim ideologies and spending time with Blacks in Table
11.1. Thus, it is not possible to determine which variable
is a better predictor of the other.

Although the data of this study do not permit us to de-
termine the primacy of time over ideologies or vice versa, I
have chosen to examine time as the major controlling vari-
able of the study as demonstrated by the causal model in di-
agram 1. Thus, it is my hypothesis that the actual time the
respondents spent with Blacks and Whites throughout the
three periods of their lifetime will have a strong effect on
the dependent variables of the study.

Time vs. General Comfort and Motivation to Black Community

Support for the hypothesis discussed in the previous
paragraph may be found in the relationships between change
in time and change in general comfort the respondents feel
when interacting with Blacks and Whites in various activ-
ates. In Table 12, there is a strong relationship between
change in time from the Pre-to-Prin period and change in
“general comfort” for the same period. The more respondents

38

increased the time they spent with Blacks during this peri-
od, the more comfortable respondents became, in general,
with Blacks; and the more respondents increased the time
they spent with Whites during this period, the more comfor-
table respondents became, in general, with Whites. This
same positive relationship is also shown in Table 12.1 for
the period Prin-to-Post.

The motivation to benefit the Black community is also in-
fluenced by time (see table 13). The more respondents in-
creased the time they spent with Blacks the more motivated
they became to benefit the Black community; and the more the
respondents spent time with Whites, the more unmotivated the
respondents became to benefit the Black community.

The relationship between change in time and change in mo-
tivation to benefit the Black community for Prin-to-Post
period in Table 13.1 is more ambiguous than the other rela-
tionships for time. A strong relationship is indicated in
the top portion of the table which shows that the more re-
spondents began spending time with Blacks, the more respon-
dents became motivated to benefit the Black community. Yet,
the relationship in the bottom portion of the table shows no
relationship at all.

It is possible that the disappearance of this relation-
ship in the bottom portion of the table is correlated to the
inability to determine which of the variables, time or
ideologies, is more closely related to the dependent vari-

39

ables. As opposed to Table 13.1, tables 19 and 19.1 demon-
strate that the relationship between ideologies and motiva-
tion to benefit the Black community provides a less ambigu-
ous finding. In these tables, it is clear that for both the
Pre-to-Prin and Prin-to-Post periods there is a strong posi-
tive relationship which shows that the more respondents be-
came sep/plur, the more respondents would become motivated
to benefit the Black community, and the more respondents be-
came int/asim, the more unmotivated respondents became to
benefit the Black community. Thus, for certain cases and
periods of time, it is possible that ideologies is more in-
fluential than time.

Association Between Time and Ideologies

The relationship between change in time and change in
ideologies is demonstrated by tables 11-14.1. For each time
period, it was found that the more respondents increased the
time they spent with Blacks, the more they became sep/plur;
and the more the respondents increased time they spent with
Whites, the more respondents became int/assim. Thus, it may
be understood that the more respondents increased the time
they spent with Blacks or Whites greatly influenced their
sense of comfort with Blacks and Whites, in general, in ad-
dition to influencing their desire to benefit the Black com-
munity, and their ideologies.

40

Before discussing the relationship between ideologies and
the other dependent variables of the study, let us examine
the actual percentage of respondents spending time interact-
ing with Blacks and Whites in the three periods in order to
gain an understanding of how these respondents’ attitudes
may have been affected by the change in time.

Time and its Correlates

The frequencies from the data (see tables 2 and 2a) indi-
cate that a smaller percentage of respondents spent time
with Blacks during Pre-Princeton, in comparison to Prince-
ton. During Princeton, this percentage increased greatly,
but declined during Post-Princeton.

The percentages in tables 2 and 2a, in addition to the
relationships between change in time and the dependent vari-
ables in tables 12-14.1 show interesting findings about the
respondents. It is clear that during Princeton, as a result
of the greatly increased percentage of respondents who spent
more time with Blacks than with Whites, it is very likely
that the percentage of respondents who’indicated that they
spent more time with Blacks than with Whites was more com-
fortable with Blacks than with Whites in various activities
while at Princeton in comparison to before entering Prince-
ton and also in comparison to the percentage of respondents

41

who spent more time with Whites or equal time with Blacks
and Whites.

Tables 15-16.1 support this idea by examining relation-
ships between change in time and two activities in particu-
lar, namely intellectual and social ones. The tables demon-
strate that for both the Pre-to-Prin and the Prin-to-Post
periods, the more respondents increased the time they spent
with Blacks, the more comfortable respondents became while
engaging in intellectual and social activities with Blacks
and the less comfortable they became with Whites. The more
respondents increased time spent with Whites, the more com-
fortable respondents became while engaging in intellectual
and social activities with Whites and the less they became
comfortable with Blacks. Thus, the respondents who spent
more time with Blacks during the Pre-to-Prin period were un-
comfortable when interacting with Whites in social and inte-
lectual activities.

Tables 14 and 14.1 show that during the Pre-to-Prin peri-
od, respondents’ ideologies became sep/plur as opposed to
int/assim. Therefore, not only did respondents who began
spending time with Blacks prefer interacting with Blacks in
comparison to Whites on a’ one-to-one basis, but they in-
creasingly held ideologies which support sep/plur. This ob-
servation indicates a likelihood that the high percentage of
respondents who began spending time with Blacks during the
Pre-to-Prin period did so consciously as opposed to being

42

forced to do so as a result of discrimination on the part of
the University forcing Blacks and Whites apart.

Also, given relationships shown in tables 13 and 13.1, it
may be seen that the respondents who increased time spent
with Blacks during the Pre-to-Prin period also became more
motivated to benefit the Black community than respondents
who increased the time they spent with Whites.

As we have seen, the findings discussed in the previous
paragraphs seem to support the hypothesis that respondents
who were increasing the time spent with Blacks were becoming
more attached to the Black community during the Pre-to-Prin
period both in their individual interactions and in their
political ideologies about Black and White relations on a
community level. Respondents who were increasing time spent
with Blacks were also becoming interested in positively con-
tributing to the Black community.

As a result of the huge decline in the percentage of re-
spondents who began increasing time spent with Blacks during
the Prin-to-Post period demonstrated earlier in Table 2, it
seems probable that as respondents became. attached to the
White community with respects to their attitudes, they be-
came detached from the Black community.

Evidence to support the hypothesis previously discussed
may be seen in Table 2a which shows the percentage of re-
spondents who began spending time with Blacks and Whites.
During the Prin-to-Post period, as respondents reported

43

spending time with Whites (an increased from 26% to 31%),
respondents also began spending less time with Blacks (a de-
crease from 61% to 39%).

However, it must be noted that these findings could be
the result of the questionnaire design. Respondents were
asked to rate their attitudes by comparing Blacks and
Whites, thus, as certain attitudes towards Blacks increase,
it is inevitable that these attitudes towards Whites will
decrease and vice versa.

Association Between Ideologies and Schools Attended

The study tries to examine ideologies as it relates to
the dependent variables. Table 17 demonstrates change in
ideologies during the Pre-to-Prin period is not only related
to change in time but also to another independent variable,
namely, “schools attended”, which measures change in the ra-
cial make-up of the primary and secondary schools attended
by the respondents before Princeton.

The variable, schools attended, was created by calculat-
ing the difference between the racial make-ups of each re-
spondents’ primary school and his/her secondary school.
“Schools attended” was crosstabulated with ideologies only
for the period Pre-to-Prin and not the period during Prin-
to-Post because too much time elapes from before Princeton

44

and after Princeton to consider any relationship between
these two variables. Table 17 shows the more the respon-
dents went to secondary schools whose populations were be-
coming more Black than that of their primary schools, the
more the respondents would become sep/plur; and the more re-
spondents went to secondary schools whose populations were
becoming more White than that of their primary schools, the
more the respondents would become int/assim. Thus, ideolo-
gies during Princeton are not only related to time during
Pre-Princeton, but to a combination of time and schools at-
tended.

Associations between Ideologies and the Dependent Variables

It is my hypothesis that ideologies held by the respon-
dents will be positively related to attitudes, comforts, and
motivations of respondents. However, tables 18 and 18.1.,
which show relationships between change in ideologies of re-
spondents and the change in comfort felt when interacting
with Blacks and Whites in general on an individual level for
the periods Pre-to-Prin and Prin-to-Post, indicate an unex-
pected finding. In Table 18, it is clear that a strong re-
lationship exists which demonstrates that as more respon-
dents became sep/plur, more respondents became comfortable
with Blacks in general; and as more respondents became int/

45

assim, more respondents became comfortable with Whites in
general. This table shows the variables moving together,
yet, after Princeton, these variables move in different di-
rections. Table 18.1 shows that the previous relationship
disappears.

In order to explain this disappearance it would be help-
ful to find some third variable having the same relationship
to ideologies and to general comfort during the Pre-to-Prin
period but would have different relationships to these vari-
ables in the Prin-to-Post period. Unfortunately, I have
been unable to find such a variable in this study. Ideolo-
gies and “general comfort” were crosstabulated with every
variable in this study and no such relationship occurred to
explain the disappearance. Thus, in this instance, I will
not venture to speculate beyond the limits of my data.

Despite this peculiar occurance, ideologies and other de-
pendent variables show relatively strong relationships with
few inconsistencies. For example, tables 19 and 19.1 demon-
strate that the more respondents became sep/plur, during the
Pre-to-Prin period, the more respondents became motivated to
benefit the Black community; and the more int/assim they be-
came, the more unmotivated they became to benefit the Black
community.

One possible explanation for this occurance may be that
both integrationist and separationist strive to benefit the
Black community because supporters of these ideologies may

46

believe that their ideologies best serve to benefit the
Black community. However, it is possible that while a Black
separationist may be solely concerned with the particular
community he/she chooses to work within, a Black integra-
tionist may be equally concerned with the Black and White
communities, thus must divide his/her motivations between
these communities. In essense, a Black integrationist who
is dividing motivations between two groups is less concerned
with benefiting the Black community specifically than a
Black separationist who is placing his/her energies into the
Black community only. Such reasoning could account for the
findings which show separationists becoming more motivated
to benefit the Black community in comparison to integration-
ists.

With respect to their attitudes towards the Black lower
class, during both the Pre-to-Prin and the Prin-to-Post
periods, the more respondents became sep/plur, the more re-
spondents became obligated to help improve the lives of the
Black lower class (see tables 20 and 20.1). However, the
relationship between the change in ideologies during the
Prin-to-Post period and the change in feeling of obligation
to the Black lower class in table 20.1 is much weaker than
the relationship during the Pre-to-Prin period.
Relationships in the previous tables could be the result
of the respondents’ increased occupational motivation during

47

the Prin-to-Post period as discussed earlier. This table
shows that the percentage of respondents who became motivat-
ed by their occupation increased from 28% during the Pre-to-
Prin period to 50% from the Prin-to-Post period, while table
4.3a shows that more respondents lost their motivation to
benefit the Black community during the Prin-to-Post period.

These findings make it possible to speculate that at the
Post-Princeton point, as more respondents were becoming in-
creasingly motivated by their occupations, they had less at-
tention to divide among their other priorities. As a re-
sult, some of their motivations to the Black community may
have become withdrawn in order to place more emphasis on oc-
cupational attainments. Consequently, their feelings of ob-
ligation to the Black lower class were decreased as well.

Tables 21 and 21.1 demonstrate that a different relation-
ship exists for both periods when change in ideologies was
crosstabulated with the feeling of pride the respondents
have in avoiding remaining in or falling into the life of
the Black lower class. It was found that the more respon-
dents became int/assim, the more proud they were of this
fact; and the more sep/plur they became, the less proud they
were. But, it should be noted that the relationship during
the Pre-to-Prin period, in this case, is a little weaker
than the Prin-to-Post period relationship.

With some speculation, these findings may be attributed
to the idea that in order for an individual to be int/assim,

48

that individual may hold the belief that Blacks, as a whole,
should strive to become integrated into , as opposed to seg-
regated away from the White community, while a Black who is
sep/plur may believe in striving for the opposite goal.
Therefore, an int/assim may not be achieving his/her goals
by falling into a life with other Blacks, and thus, be more
proud of avoiding their life. A sep/plur, however, may feel
that falling into a life led by other Blacks is a step to-
wards achieving his/her goal and, thus, be less proud of
avoiding the life of the Black lower class.

When the relationship between change in ideologies and
guilt of betraying the Black lower class is analyzed in ta-
bles 22 and 22.1, it is evident that respondents who became
sep/plur, felt more guilt of betrayal and those who became
more int/assim, felt less guilt.

In this instance it is possible that respondents who be-
came sep/plur face some conflict that may produce feelings
of guilt for betraying the Black community. This conflict
may result from actively integrating in a predominately
White environment by attending Princeton. If separtist
ideologies are based on total separation from the White com-
munity, a certain level of guilt is’ more likely to be felt
by a respondent who became sep/plur than by those who became
int/assim. An integrationist is not opposing any of his/her
ideologies by attending Princeton. On the other hand, the
respondent is acting in the best interest of integrationist

49

ideologies and, thus, is faced with no conflict to cause
feelings of guilt.

Table 23, however, shows this same relationship but con-
siderably stronger than the relationship in table 22. For
the Pre-to-Prin period, when respondents were asked if they
felt that the Black lower class must help themselves, a very
weak relationship showing that the more sep/plur the respon-
dents became, the more the respondents felt that the Black
lower class must help themselves appeared; and the more int/
assim they became, the more they felt that the Black lower
class must not help themselves. This same relationship was
present for the Prin-to-Post period in Table 23.1, but it
has become stronger.

Integrationist and separationist ideologies both encour-
age the active participation of the Black community in work-
ing towards self-help. Integrationism and separtionism may
both be ways for the Black lower class to help themselves.
Thus, it is not surprising that the idea of self-help by the
lower class continued to increase through the life periods
of the respondents.

Finally, tables 24 and 24.1 demonstate a strong relation-
ship for the change in ideologies during the Pre-to-Prin
period and the feeling that the situation of the Black lower
class is hopeless, such that the more respondents became
sep/plur, the more respondents felt hopeless; and the more
respondents became int/assim, the less hopeless they felt.,

50

However, once again, this relationship was very weak for the
same relationship in the Prin-to-Post Table 24.1.

My speculation for this finding is based on the possibil-
ity that a separationist is more likely to have a realistic
impression of the plight of the Black lower class because of
the likelihood that a separationist is more closely associ-
ated with the Black lower class than are integrationist. By
actually working with the Black lower class or within their
communities as a result of their ideologies, a separationist
may better understand the desparation of their situation and
feel more hopeless about a resolution as opposed to an inte-
grationist who is ignorant to their plight.

51

Chapter V

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

The original hypotheses of the study as demonstrated ear-
lier by the causal models in diagram 1, stated that time
would have a positive relationship to the dependent vari-
ables such that the more respondents began spending time
with Blacks, the more they would become attached to Black
individuals and the Black community in several respects; and
the more respondents began spending time with Whites, the
more they would be attached to Whites in several respects.
The findings as demonstrated by the revised causal models
below in diagrams 2 and 3, were not far off from these orig-
inal hypotheses.

REVISED CAUSAL MODEL

Time

Comfort interacting with Blacks

Motivation to benefit the Black community

Attitudes towards the Black lower class

Ideologies

(Diagram 2)

52

The causal model in diagram 2 demonstrates that there is
still a positive relationship between time and the dependent
variables. Ideologies, however, was found to have the same
relationship to the dependent variables. Unfortunately, the
data do not provide a way of determining whether time or
ideologies is more closely related to the dependent vari-
ables for reasons discussed earlier. However, I have chosen
to examine the time respondents spent with Blacks and Whites
as it determines later ideologies and attitudes because I am
more interested in this relationship as opposed to examining
how ideologies determines time.

(Diagram 3)

The causal model in diagram 3 demonstrates that the study
examines the respondents who spent time interacting with
Blacks and Whites on an individual level as the major causal
variable of the study. As discussed earlier, the time spent
has a positive relationship to all the dependent variables
of the study which show that the more respondents began
spending time with Blacks, the more respondents became sep/
plur and.the more respondents became attached and interested
in the Black community. However, the more respondents began
spending time with Whites, the more they became attached to
and interested in the White community.

53

The causal model goes on to argue that the relationships
between ideologies and the variables which measure attit-
dues, i.e., towards the Black lower class, comfort felt on
an individual level with Blacks and Whites , and the desire
to benefit the Black community is as follows: the more re-
spondent became sep/plur, the more respondents became com-
fortable with Blacks, the more respondents became motivated
to benefit the Black community, and held more positive atti-
tudes towards the Black lower class in general. The more
respondents became int/assim, the more they became comforta-
ble with Whites, the less motivated they became to benefit
the Black community, and the less positive their attitudes
became towards the Black lower class in general.

MAJOR CONCLUSION

The major conclusion to be drawn from the findings of the
study is as follows: despite the respondents’ sense of com-
fort with Blacks and Whites, their motivation to benefit the
Black community, or their attitudes towards the Black lower
class before Princeton, more respondents tended to identify
with Blacks during Princeton in every measured respect.
However, after Princeton this identification decreased dras-
tically. Before discussing this finding in more detail, I
feel it is necessary to clarify this idea of identification
as it is used in this study.

54

When I first set out to examine the attitudes of the
respondents towards Blacks and Whites, I believed that the
extent to which a respondent identified with the Black com-
munity would determine that individual’s attitudes. In de-
fining the concept of identification or the ability to
identify with the Black community, I based my definition on
the premise that there is a distinctive Black culture very
different from White culture. Elements of Black culture
which make it unique from White culture such as its music,
its language, the struggles and a “consciousness” shared by
its people may be attributed to the injustices and oppres-
sions suffered by this race of people which are not compara-
ble to the experiences of any other race of people through
this country’s history. However, with the increasing inte-
gration of Blacks into the mainstream society, many “inte-
grated Blacks” have lost touch with the Black culture in
their attempts to become adjusted and comfortable in their
new culture–the White culture. Some of these Blacks are no
longer able to enjoy the qualities which make Black culture
so unique or are unable to openly share their culture with
other Blacks because they have become so far removed from
these experiences and, in some instances, ashamed of them
as a result of their integration.

There are other Blacks who, in being integrated have not
lost touch. They have maintained an awareness and a sincere
appreciation for the uniqueness of the Black culture. Un-

55

like those who have lost touch, these Blacks have not become
ashamed of Black culture.

It is with these ideas that I formulated my conception of
identifying with the Black community. Thus, I believe that
a respondent who did not identify with the Black community
would be less likely to spend time with Blacks and be less
motivated to benefit the Black community. However I encoun-
tered several problems following this line of reasoning.

I now believe it is incorrect to assume that just because
a Black individual does not enjoy or choose to participate
in the culture of his people, that that individual is not
interested in benefiting that group of people. For example,
a Black may not enjoy the music, or language of the Black
community because his preferences lead him to other inter-
ests, but this same individual may actively work to improve
employment for Blacks because of a sincere interest in ame-
liorating this condition. Therefore, the inability to
identify with one aspect of the Black culture does not nec-
essarily cause apathy towards Blacks in general.

Also, a Black individual may be unable to understand or
appreciate the Black culture because that individual was not
raised in that culture, yet still be able to;identify as be-
ing a Black person. For example, a Black person may have
all White friends and prefer these friends and their activi-
ties to those with Blacks without the individual believing
that he/she is White. It is possible that the individual

56

identifies with being a Black person and chooses to benefit
the Black community because he/she is a Black person, but
does not necessarily identify with the culture.

Thus, defining identification as an appreciation and an
enjoyment found in the Black culture is not complete enough
for the purposes of the study. However, through my study I
was able to redefine the concept of identification.

Earlier in the discussion of “comfort” in the Hypothesis
Chapter, the concept of familiarity was introduced. Until
this point familiarity only served to explain the role of
comfort in this study. However, after completion of my
study, it is clear to me that familiarity or the extent to
which respondents are familiar with the Black community is
helpful in redefining the concept of identification. It is
my belief that a respondent’s sense of familiarity with the
Black community or with the White community will result in
the respondent’s inclination to become attached to Blacks or
Whites on an individual and on a community level.

By measuring relative comfort respondents feel interact-
ing with Blacks and with Whites as well as the time spent
actually interacting with Blacks and Whites, the respondents
ideologies, motivations, and ‘ attitudes towards the Black
lower class, the study is providing an idea of the respon-
dents’ familiarity with Blacks and Whites, which will influ-
ence the extent to which respondents are attached to Blacks
or Whites, thereby indicating the extent to which the indi-

57

vidual identifies with Blacks or Whites. For example, a re-
spondent who spends increasingly more time with Blacks in
comparison to Whites or feels comfort with Blacks in compar-
ison to Whites or holds ideologies that are sep/plur rather
than int/assim, or is more motivated to benefit the Black
community as opposed to being unmotivated, or is more obli-
gated to the Black lower class, is more likely to be famil-
iar with Blacks as opposed to Whites, be more inclined to
become attached to Blacks as opposed to Whites and, thus,
identify more with Blacks as opposed to Whites.

NEW HYPOTHESIS

Many questions arise from these findings. For instance,
why did some respondents tend to become more attached and
interested in the Black community during Princeton? What
influence did their Princeton environment have on their at-
titudes and why were these influences not present before and
after Princeton? The findings provided by this study leave
these questions unanswered because the questionnaire was not
designed to investigate these surprising occurances. How-
ever, it is possible to develop new hypotheses which might
explain these findings and suggest methods for testing them.
One possible hypothesis explaining why some respondents
become attached to Blacks during Princeton was derived from
some ideas Dejoie brought out in her report discussed earli-

58

er in the Hypothesis Chapter. Predominately White universi-
ties like Princeton are socially and academically designed
to cater to the needs of the White students comprising the
bulk of their enrollments. At Princeton, for example, pres-
ently their are only five Black tenured professsors on its
faculty; and the program of Afro-American studies is one of
the smallest and most understaffed departments in the Uni-
versity only offering four courses during the spring semes-
ter of 1985; and there is only one major University recog-
nized organization on campus designed specifically for the
intellectual and social interests of Blacks and other Third
World students.

Activities organized by University groups such as Student
Government rarely, if ever, take into account the diverse
interests which exist at a University that is not 100%
White. If Black students want to have certain speakers or
programs, catering to their interests, they must form sepa-
rate groups within the University, i.e., the Organization of
Black Unity, the Princeton University Black Thoughts Table,
the Society of Black Engineers. Several Black students
within the past four years, have even organized a Food Co-
operative which provides these students with an inexpensive
alternative to University eating facilities and Eating Clubs
which are very expensive by comparison. Thus, it is not
surprising that, in their attempts to satisfy their own in-
tellectual, social, and also economic needs, some respon-

59

dents became attached to Blacks during the Pre-to-Prin peri-
od.

In order to study this hypothesis which, in essence, is
saying that the more respondents became attached to Blacks
during the Pre-to-Prin period, the more respondents became
dissatisfied with the social and academic environment at
Princeton, one might measure the degree of satisfaction re-
spondents felt in their experiences at Princeton. By creat-
ing a scale from being “very satisfied” to being “not satis-
fied at all”, respondents could be asked to rate numerous
Princeton experiences, i.e., social life, academic diversi-
ty, eating options, and in general on this scale. From such
a question, one could discover how satisfied Blacks were at
Princeton and what satisfied them most and least.

Another possible hypothesis created from this study’s
findings explaining why respondents became attached to
Blacks at Princeton is that the mood of Black students at
Princeton during the time that most of the respondents were
attending Princeton was more separationist. As discussed
earlier, most respondents were attending Princeton during
the 70’s, at a time when the Black Power Movement was still
influencing the attitudes of many Blacks.

It is possible that Black individuals either chose to or
felt pressured to come together with other Blacks on campus
because of the belief that Blacks must join in solidarity to
combat a White oppressor. As the few Blacks in a White en-

60

vironment it is understandable that respondents might have
felt a need to look out for one another.

One can contrast the mood of the campus years ago and the
level of attachment to Blacks to that of the present mood of
the campus, which is more pro-integrationist, and the level
of attachment to Blacks. Presently, with the Black Power
Movement behind us and with the implementation of CURL
(College Undergraduate Residential Life), the mood of the
campus has been shifted in such a way that Black students
are discouraged from forming separate groups because of a
fear that they are segregating themselves from mainstream
campus life by doing so. Thus, if a survey were to be made
today of the level of Black involvement in minority organi-
zations and their involvement in campus organizations, there
would be a larger percentage of Blacks involved in main-
stream life in comparison to the years when these respon-
dents were at Princeton. But, on the other hand, the per-
centage of involvement in Third World organizations would be
much lower now than then. It appears, that the present mood
of the campus is one that encourages the integration and as-
similation of Blacks, whereas the mood of the campus and
even society in general several years ago encouraged the
separation of Blacks. Thus, the mood of the time may have
contributed its influence to more respondents becoming at-
tached to Blacks.

61

So far, I have discussed a few characteristics of Prince-
ton and the time at which respondents were attending the
University which may account for some of the main findings
of this study. However, it is still necessary to discuss
why the respondents’ Princeton experiences were different
from their Pre and Post-Princeton experiences. It is impor-
tant to remember that before Princeton, a large percentage
of the respondents were attending secondary schools whose
population was more heavily White in comparison to their
primary schools.

After Princeton, one may speculate that respondents were
also in predominately White work environments or attending
graduate or professional schools that were also predominate-
ly White. Thus, a discussion of the differences between
these experiences in predominately White environments and
Princeton experiences that prevented Pre and Post environ-
ments from changing their attitudes will be interesting.

What I believe distinguishes Pre-Princeton from Princeton
experiences accounting for the respondents’ tendencies to
identify more with Blacks during Princeton, is the presence
of a support group, i.e., family or home, during Pre-Prince-
ton that was absent during Princeton. During Pre-Princeton
if respondents became frustrated or discouraged as a result
of their experiences in a predominately White academic envi-
ronment the respondents could always escape from these frus-
trations when they left these environments to go home.

62

Thus, respondents’ families and homelives provide relief
from any problems or tensions encountered in predominately
White environments. However, when respondents enter col-
lege, many, if not most, are unable to go home for support
from families readily when they are frustrated or discour-
aged by their Princeton environment usually because their
familiies are far from them and telephoning home may be re-
stricted because of the expense. Thus, in their attempts to
find a substitute support group, respondents turn to indi-
viduals in their environments who most resemble their old
support groups; individuals who share the same problems as
themselves and understand their complaints. Consequently,
many respondents find themselves spending more time with
other Blacks while at Princeton because it is likely that
other Blacks are more sensitive to respondents’ problems,
and it is also likely that respondents are identifying more
with Blacks.

What distinguishes Post-Princeton from Princeton experi-
ences, accounting for the respondents’ tendencies to identi-
fy more with Blacks during Princeton are the respondents’
increased motivations to benefit their occupations. Assum-
ing that most of these respondents are working or attending
schools during Post-Princeton that are predominately White,
most of their time during Post-Princeton will be spent in-
teracting with their White co-workers or classmates. Thus,
the increasing amount of time spent with Whites resulting

63

from the respondents’ occupational pursuits can account for
the increased attachment to Whites during Post-Princeton.
In essence, in order to advance in their careers or post-
graduate studies, respondents realize they must be able to
get along with their co-workers or classmates who are likely
to be White, thereby identifying more with Whites.

I began this study questionning my own attitudes as a fu-
ture alumnus. I wondered whether or not my education at
Princeton would affect my identification with the Black com-
munity. I hoped that these findings would help me conclude
that despite the high degree of identification with Whites
as a result of the educational and occupational path that
Black Princeton alumni follow, the alumni would still main-
tain a certain level of identification with the Black commu-
nity. However, these findings do not support this possibil-
ity.

Findings show that some respondents did experience a
change in their attitudes over the periods of time indicated
in this study. By studying respondents who did change, it
was shown that respondents’ experiences while attending
Princeton caused their identification with Blacks and the
Black community to increase as their’ identification with
Whites and the White community decreased. However, after
Princeton, respondents’ experienced the opposite change in
attitude; their identification with Blacks and the Black
community decreased as their identification with Whites and

64

the White community increased. Thus, these findings suggest
that respondents who experience change as a result of their
Princeton experiences are likely to identify less with
Blacks and the Black community in comparison to Whites and
the Whites community.

It is important to note that it is impossible for me to
generalize these findings for all Black Princeton alumni be-
cause the sample for this study was much too small to make
any kind of generalizations. Therefore, I am only able to
draw conclusions from these findings for the respondents to
my questionnaire.

What is left to be done now is a further examination of
this issue to determine if a Princeton education has unique
effects on Blacks or if the effects are common for all col-
lege-educated Blacks in general. It is my belief that such
a study should be undertaken by developing a new question-
naire to be distributed to Black alumni of several different
types of universities. Such a study could prove to be inva-
luable to bettering the educational environments for Blacks
who are able to attend college, thereby improving the over-
all quality of a college education for Blacks.

65

CHAPTER VI

APPENDIX

[statistics omitted]

66

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Billingsley, Andrew, Black Families in White America, (New
Jersey: Prentice-Hall), 1968.

Carmichael, S. & Hamilton, C., Black Power: The Politics of
Liberation in America, (New York: Vintage Books), 1967.

Conyers, J. & Wallace W., Black Elected Officials, (New
York: Russell Sage Foundation), 1976.

Dejoie, Carolyn, “Low Morale in Higher Education: Blacks in
Predominately Whites Universities”, (source of article
unknown).

Havemann, E. & West, P., They Went to College: The College
Graduate in America Today, (New York: Harcourt, Brace &
Co.), 1952.

Piazza & Glock, “Images of God and Their Social Meaning”,
Religious Dimensions, (New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc.),
1979.

Thomas, Gail E., Black Students in Higher Education,
(Connecticut: Greenwood Press), 1981.

van den Berghe, Pierre, Race and Racism, (New York: Wiley),
1967.

PDF of Michelle Obama Princeton Thesis

Filed under: Uncategorized — obamaprincetonthesis @ 10:12 pm

A Politico post by Jeffrey Ressner on Michelle Obama’s 1985 Princeton thesis, entitled “Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community,” can be found here.

Politico is currently hosting it in a 4-part PDF. A complete PDF of the thesis can be downloaded here.

The next post will be a word-searchable version, from a quick optical scan, minus the statistical data near the end of the thesis.

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