Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) Capstone Projects

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Consider this question: If happiness is found in the pursuit of a goal, could it be that an oppressed group, that is eternally in a struggle for something better, could have a subconscious and profound relationship with well-being? Is it possible that the human spirit finds ways to survive and thrive with pride regardless of the oppression? The spirit is unique. It survives independently of the oppression with no goal to emulate. Flourishing in the black community is long under-identified and misunderstood. This is primarily due to the lens from which history has analyzed it. Due to the white lens through which we see and judge most things, inequality prevails in America, and propagates a negative message of trauma for African Americans; that they are an oppressed group and nothing more. Even joy is exaggerated and misplaced as an aid to white supremacy through the mistral stereotype, a happy slave grateful for his or her inferior position in society. As Mia Bay (unpublished) asserts, this creates a problematic dichotomy of where African Americans fit in with the flourishing discussion. This paper offers a different lens through which to define thriving in the black community under a new trait, the ‘pearl’ or essence of an oppressed community. Furthermore, it offers an original theory, ‘The Pearl Effect’, which is an original term that I have coined to describe the capacity of individuals or groups to create something positive or of beauty in the face of insurmountable odds and oppression. It is exemplified by the African American community embedding their essence into positive institutions as a resilient act in the face of continuous oppression. It provides examples of the institutions that throughout history personified the Effect and created opportunities for the black community to exhibit the ‘pearl’ trait and experience flourishing, specifically the Black Church, the Harlem Renaissance, and Hip Hop.


flourishing, Pearl Effect, pearl, essence, happiness, black, community, oppression, inequality, well-being, unique, African, American, church, Harlem Renaissance, hip hop


Well-Being/Flourishing, Race/Ethnicity, Community Well-Being, African-American, Oppression





Date Posted: 01 November 2022