Racial/ethnic socialization for White youth: What we know and future directions

kids laying in circle on backs and smiling up at camera

Teaching and learning about race and ethnicity is an important social, cognitive, and developmental experience for people living in racially diverse societies.

In the United States, this is commonly known as racial/ethnic socialization (RES).

However, in comparison to people of color, White people typically do not have to navigate racial issues from the same position of how to function in mainstream society. We posit that investigations of RES have missed an important opportunity to empirically assess when and how RES promotes social inclusion among White youth.

Key Findings

  • Talking directly about racial/ethnic issues may be lacking within most White family home environments and in many school contexts, a trend that we expect will soon change.
  • Children form beliefs and attitudes about racial/ethnic differences regardless of whether adults choose to engage in discussions about them.
  • Social interactions can positively and negatively affect how White children perceive race and ethnicity, which also affects how they view themselves (e.g., social position).
  • RES should play a more prominent role in White children’s development with regard to social norms and intergroup behaviors.
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