Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Patrick H. Munley


Scholarship on biracial persons has been primarily focused on those of African American and White heritages. The dominance of research on this one segment of the biracial population has in turn led to the myth of a universal biracial experience. There is a critical need to hear the voices and experiences of those who are members of two or more communities of color. While many researchers have recommended that more studies be done with biracial participants from two or more communities of color, few studies have been conducted. The purpose of this study was to explore exclusively the lived experiences of adults with African American and Korean heritages (AAKs). This study used a qualitative phenomenological approach. Initial and follow-up interviews were conducted with six female and one male AAK who all had Korean immigrant mothers and African American fathers who served in the military. Ethnographic interviews loosely structured around ten life domains were used to gain a holistic view of the participants’ lived experiences. Following phenomenological data analysis, five essential themes emerged: (1) negotiation of racial identity (ies), (2) absence of AAK communal group, (3) lived experiences as othered “other,” (4) reflections of Korean cultural influences, and (5) relationships with African American partners. Contextual frames for each essential theme are also discussed to allow for deeper insight. Some of these contextual frames include: encounters with race and racism, military life, there is something about being black and Asian, and significance of traditional food. Due to the current study being the first to focus exclusively on AAKs, study results add important contributions to clinical and future research implications. One primary implication for clinical practice and training is for clinicians to be aware of their own biases and assumptions about how members of the African American and Korean communities may or may not interact. Suggestions for future research include exploration of the lived experiences of AAKs in South Korea and further study of AAK males.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access