Fund Your Utopia Without Me.™

31 July 2008

Michelle Obama's Princeton Thesis - II

Associations between Ideologies and the Dependent Variables

It is my hypothesis that ideologies held by the respondents 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 respondents 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 unexpected finding. In Table 18, it is clear that a strong relationship exists which demonstrates that as more respondents became sep/plur, more respondents became comfortable with Blacks in general; and as more respondents became int/assim, more respondents became comfortable with Whites in general. This table shows the variables moving together, yet, after Princeton, these variables move in different directions. Table 18.1 shows that the previous relationship disappears.

In order to explain this disappearance it would be helpful 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 variables in the Prin-to-Post period. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find such a variable in this study. Ideologies 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 dependent variables show relatively strong relationships with few inconsistencies. For example, tables 19 and 19.1 demonstrate 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 became, 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 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 integrationist 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 findingswhich show separationists becoming more motivated to benefit the Black community in comparison to integrationists.

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 respondents 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 the Prin-to-Post period as discussed earlier. This table shows that the percentage of respondents who became motivated 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 increasingly motivated by their occupations, they had less attention to divide among their other priorities. As a result, some of their motivations to the Black community may have become withdrawn in order to place more emphasis on occupational attainments. Consequently, their feelings of obligation to the Black lower class were decreased as well.

Tables 21 and 21.1 demonstrate that a different relationship 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 respondents 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, that individual may hold the belief that Blacks, as a whole, should strive to become integrated into, as opposed to segregated 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 towards 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 tables 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 became 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 community, 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 ideologies and, thus, is faced with no conflict to cause feelings of guilt.

Table 23, however, shows this same relationship but considerably 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 respondents 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 encourage the active participation of the Black community in working 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 relationship 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.

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 possibility 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 associated 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 integrationist who is ignorant to their plight.

Chapter V


The original hypotheses of the study as demonstrated earlier by the causal models in diagram 1, stated that time would have a positive relationship to the dependent variables 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 original hypotheses.

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 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 variables 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.


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.

The causal model goes on to argue that the relationships between ideologies and the variables which measure attitdues, 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 respondent became sep/plur, the more respondents became comfortable with Blacks, the more respondents became motivated to benefit the Black community, and held more positive attitudes towards the Black lower class in general. The more respondents became int/assim, the more they became comfortable 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.


The major conclusion to be drawn from the findings of the study is as follows: despite the respondents’ sense of comfort 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 drastically. 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.

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 community would determine that individual’s attitudes. In defining the concept of identification or the ability to identify with the Black community, 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 oppressions suffered by this race of people which are not comparable to the experiences of any other race of people through this country’s history. However, with the increasing integration of Blacks into the mainstream society, many “integrated 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. Unlike 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 encountered 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 interests, but this same individual may actively work to improve employment for Blacks because of a sincere interest in ameliorating this condition. Therefore, the inability to identify with one aspect of the Black culture does not necessarily 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 being a Black person. For example, a Black person may have all White friends and prefer these friends and their activities to those with Blacks without the individual believing that he/she is White. It is possible that the individual 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 interacting 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 respondents’ familiarity with Blacks and Whites, which will influence the extent to which respondents are attached to Blacks or Whites, thereby indicating the extent to which the individual identifies with Blacks or Whites. For example, a respondent who spends increasingly more time with Blacks in comparison to Whites or feels comfort with Blacks in comparison 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 obligated to the Black lower class, is more likely to be familiar 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.


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 attitudes 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. However, 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 earlier in the Hypothesis Chapter. Predominately White universities 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, presently 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 University only offering four courses during the spring semester of 1985; and there is only one major University recognized 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 separate 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 Cooperative 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 intellectual, social, and also economic needs, some respondents became attached to Blacks during the Pre-to-Prin period.

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 respondents felt in their experiences at Princeton. By creating a scale from being “very satisfied” to being “not satisfied at all”, respondents could be asked to rate numerous Princeton experiences, i.e., social life, academic diversity, 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 environment 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 organizations and their involvement in campus organizations, there would be a larger percentage of Blacks involved in mainstream life in comparison to the years when these respondents were at Princeton. But, on the other hand, the percentage 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 assimilation 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 attached to Blacks.

So far, I have discussed a few characteristics of Princeton 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 important 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 predominately White. Thus, a discussion of the differences between these experiences in predominately White environments and Princeton experiences that prevented Pre and Post environments 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-Princeton 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 environment the respondents could always escape from these frustrations when they left these environments to go home.

Thus, respondents’ families and homelives provide relief from any problems or tensions encountered in predominately White environments. However, when respondents enter college, many, if not most, are unable to go home for support from families readily when they are frustrated or discouraged by their Princeton environment usually because their familiies are far from them and telephoning home may be restricted because of the expense. Thus, in their attempts to find a substitute support group, respondents turn to individuals 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 experiences, accounting for the respondents’ tendencies to identify more with Blacks during Princeton are the respondents' increased motivations to benefit their occupations. Assuming 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 interacting with their White co-workers or classmates. Thus, the increasing amount of time spent with Whites resulting 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 future alumnus. I wondered whether or not my education at Princeton would affect my identification with the Black community. 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 maintain a certain level of identification with the Black community. However, these findings do not support this possibility.

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 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 because 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 college-educated Blacks in general. It is my belief that such a study should be undertaken by developing a new questionnaire to be distributed to Black alumni of several different types of universities. Such a study could prove to be invaluable to bettering the educational environments for Blacks who are able to attend college, thereby improving the overall quality of a college education for Blacks.