An Afro-American Perspective On Interethnic Communication

Michael L. Hecht, Janet Alberts, Sidney Ribeau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


This paper reports the results of four studies examining how Afro-Americans perceive interethnic communication with whites. Using an interpretive, cultural perspective, Afro-American descriptions of satisfying and dissatisfying conversations were obtained through open-ended questionnaires and interviews. Qualitative and quantitative analyses identified 7 issues Afro-Americans perceive as salient to their interethnic communication satisfaction: negative stereotyping, acceptance, expressiveness, authenticity, understanding, goal attainment, and powerlessness. This analysis also identified 5 conversational improvement strategies (assertiveness, open-mindedness, avoidance, interaction management, other-orientation) Afro- Americans believe that they or their conversational partner can use to improve the quality of communication. These issues and improvement strategies are taken to reflect an implicit, Afro-American theory of communication which is independent of age, sex, family income, geography, and ethnic identity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-410
Number of pages26
JournalCommunication Monographs
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics


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