Racial socialization perceptions, practices, and experiences of Black American parents and adolescents: The echoes' of a parent's heart in the voice of a child

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Child and Family Studies


Norma J. Burgess


Racial, Socialization, Parents, Adolescents, African-American, Families

Subject Categories

Family, Life Course, and Society | Sociology


A number of social scientists have studied the phenomenon of racial socialization (Bowman & Howard, 1985, Boykin & Toms, 1985; Franklin & Boyd-Franklin, 1985; Harrison, 1985; Hayles, 1985; Holliday, 1985, Peters, 1985; Spencer, 1985; Jeters, 1994; Stevenson, 1994). These earlier studies primarily focused on racial socialization of toddlers, young children, college students or parents of children. Until Stevenson and Jeters (1994), racial socialization research was void of adolescents and parents as joint participants in a research study. This research explored the relationship of the racial socialization process among adolescents and their parents. The relationship between racial socialization and self-esteem is examined. Results revealed some relationships among these variables. Further analysis of descriptive data revealed that parents believed teaching their children about societal racism was a priority. Both adolescents and parents reported congruency of racial socialization messages and practices regarding self pride, religious coping, racism awareness and cultural endurance. Adolescents in this study also reported high self-esteem on both self-esteem subscale measures, although the methodology implored suggested no significant relationship between racial socialization and self-esteem. Findings conclude that regardless of specific racial socialization messages, parents encourage high self-esteem. These findings contradicted DeVos (1989), who suggested that there was a relationship between racial socialization and self-esteem. A key element of this research is that it offers insight into what both adolescents and parents believe is important in the racial socialization process. Messages related to cultural and self pride, spirituality and racism awareness survival were transmitted to adolescents by their parents. These race-related messages by parents warned their children about the inherent nature of societal oppression. Implications for educators, counselors, developmental theorists and parents are discussed.


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