Stages of Nigrescence

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William Cross developed one of the first and most popular stage theories of racial identity development. Although this model is for African-Americans, Cross contends that it is applicable for all people of color in America.

Stages of Nigrescence
1. Pre-Encounter Stage
In the first stage, individuals downplay the importance of race in their lives and focus more on their membership in other groups (e.g. religion, social class, sexual orientation). Some people in this stage consider race-based physical characteristics to play an insignificant role in their daily lives, while others see race only as a problem that is linked to issues of social discrimination, and even others have negative attitudes toward Blacks.

2. Encounter Stage
The second stage of the Nigrescence experience in which individuals encounter an experience that causes them to challenge their current feelings about themselves and their interpretation of the condition of Black people in America. The experience is often one in which individuals face a blatant racist event. However, there are other instances in which the experience is more positive. In any event, the Encounter experience is one that is so foreign to individuals' previous worldview regarding race that it forces them to rethink their attitudes about race.

3. Immersion-Emersion
In the third stage, individuals immerse themselves in Blackness and feel liberated from Whiteness; they have positive feelings toward everything associated with Black people and a negative view of those things associated with White people. Despite this immersion into all things Black, individuals have not psychologically committed to a Black identity.

4. Internalization
The fourth stage is described as a psychological change wherein individuals learn to balance their Blackness with the other demands of personhood (e.g. other group memberships).

5. Internalization-Commitment
The final stage of the Nigrescence model, in contrast to...
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