Stepping up Your Game: Workplace Experiences of Second-Generation Nigerians in the USA

Onoso Imoagene

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article discusses the workplace experiences of second-generation Nigerian adults in the USA. Drawing on data from semi-structured interviews with 67 respondents, I show that second-generation Nigerians differ in whether they perceive racial discrimination in the workplace. There was an almost even split between subjects who felt they had been discriminated against because of their race and those who said they had not experienced anti-black discrimination. For those who felt they had been racially discriminated against at work, their experiences took very similar forms to those of African Americans, with many drawing analogies between their workplace experiences and those of African Americans and other blacks. But there was evidence of intra-black dynamics with some experiencing ethnic discrimination from African Americans and some enjoying an advantage over African Americans because they are children of black immigrants. I showcase two strategic responses found among respondents: minimizing ethnic difference and stepping up one’s game, which were used to negotiate racism and achieve economic mobility. This is consistent with the minority cultures of mobility thesis; that minority groups have cultures of mobility that foster upward social mobility, and it challenges segmented assimilation theory’s perception that black immigrant groups and their children lack tenacity or adaptive strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)497-512
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of International Migration and Integration
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2018


  • Black
  • Nigerian
  • Second-generation
  • Strategies
  • Workplace discrimination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology


Dive into the research topics of 'Stepping up Your Game: Workplace Experiences of Second-Generation Nigerians in the USA'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this