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Theoretical Framework Identity development is a complex phenomenon because of both internal and external factors in the lives of individuals. Theoretical frameworks for African American women [Special Issue: Meeting the needs of African American women].

According to Chickering and Reisser (1993), the college years are a critical time when young adults not only struggle with newfound freedom, but also must navigate the developmental trajectories of identity formation. New directions for student services, 2003(104), 19–27.

Cross contends that as Blacks move toward the development of a sound racial identity, they must reframe their sense of self from perspectives rooted in the dominant White culture to attitudes and beliefs based on their own Black cultural standpoint (Evans, Forney, & Guido-Di Brito, 1998). Things are not as rosy as they seem: Psychosocial issues of contemporary black college women.

This is anchored in a series of racial identity stages: pre-encounter, encounter, immersion-emersion, and internalization (Cross, 1971). Journal of College Student Retention: Research Theory & Practice, 13, 137–153.

For example, a woman in the pre-encounter stage may make very different dating decisions than a woman in the internalization stage.

Womanist Identity Development Janet Helms’ (1990) womanist identity development theory has been widely used in discussing the concerns and issues regarding women of color (Johnson, 2003). The implementation of culturally relevant interactive workshops, case studies, and conversations focused on the positive contributions and value of Black women may aid them as they wrestle with relationship issues during the crucial process of developing a salubrious evolving identity. It is imperative that college counselors and student affairs professionals strive to augment appropriate multicultural awareness, knowledge and skills necessary to effectively assist Black women grappling with relationship issues as they move through the process of identity development. The hip hop generation: Young blacks and the crisis in African-American culture. Researchers studying women’s identity development have emphasized the significance of establishing intimacy and interpersonal relationships in the process of identity formation (Blackhurst, 1995; Chickering, 1969; Josselson, 1987, 1996; Taub & Mc Ewen, 1991). Additionally, studies investigating intimate relationships between Black women and Black men have called attention to the effects of race, gender, and social class as constructs that influence their intimate interactions (Hill, 2005; hooks, 2001; Hughes & Howard-Hamilton, 2003).

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