Not long into this century, ethnic minority residents in all major urban centers will equal or outnumber their European American counterparts (Gardner, 1996). Further, communities across America, both urban and suburban, are already far less likely to represent ethnic or racial enclaves than was once true. Legally mandated desegregation and an expanding economy have created communities that, while still typically rigidly segregated by economic class, are increasingly racially and ethnically diverse (Educational Research Service, 1995; U.S. Census Bureau, 1990a). Increased ethnic diversity means that members of local communities must now regularly interact across racial and ethnic lines in their daily lives. Such increases in inter-ethnic contact also provide increased opportunities for discrimination.
Racial discrimination, or the active behavioral expression of racism, is defined here as denying members of certain racial groups equal access to scarce and valued resources (Cashmore, 1996; Pincus, 1996), both material and social. This definition can easily be applied to discrimination on the basis of ethnicity as well. While all racial and ethnic minorities continue to be frequent targets of discrimination (Hacker, 1992; Sigelman & Welch, 1991), African Americans tend to experience the highest rates of discrimination from all ethnic groups (Gary, 1995; Mont-Reynaud, Ritter, & Chen, 1990). Moreover, young people in particular often confront racial or ethnic discrimination as part of their daily lives (Phinney & Chavira, 1995; Wakefield, 1998; Wakefield & Hudley, 1997). For example, Black college students were turned away from a familiar chain restaurant by white employees who told them that the restaurant was closed, but white students entering after that interaction were seated and served (Los Angeles Times, 1993a). Another restaurant chain has been repeatedly cited for requiring Black adolescents to pre-pay for their orders and subjecting them to extremely long waits not experienced by white customers (Los Angeles Times, 1993b).
Cultural Pluralism and Relations in Schools
Multicultural or culturally pluralistic settings are often considered a panacea for the development of positive racial and ethnic relations. Yet the reality of discrimination is often overlooked when considering the benefits of culturally diverse communities. Cultural pluralism is defined as a pattern of social relations in which groups that are distinct from each other in a great many respects share a common set of institutions and some aspects of a common culture (Cashmore, 1996; Pincus, 1996). Cultural pluralism occurs when various ethnic groups' cultures are equally valued and coexist in the context of a larger society. In contrast, when cultures are unequally valued, ethnic and racial discrimination are often directed toward members of low-status groups (Brown, 1995). Currently in the United States, true cultural pluralism rarely, if ever, exists. Therefore it is unsurprising that legal desegregation and the creation of integrated or multicultural environments are unable to bring about an end to racial and ethnic discrimination.
School settings are an especially revealing context for understanding interactions among groups. Although many schools have become more ethnically diverse over time, they typically remain divided. Prior research (Feagin & Sikes, 1994) has found that university students tend to self-segregate by ethnic group into cliques and enclaves. Less research has investigated this phenomenon in middle schools and high schools; however, self-segregation exists in these settings as well (Braddock, Dawkins, & Wilson, 1995; Tatum, 1997). Research revisiting Allport's (1954) contact hypothesis consistently suggests that simple contact between members of different ethnic groups often leads to negative attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors directed to outgroup members (Stephan, 1987). Thus, the act of desegregating schools may have created yet another context in which young people may encounter racial and ethnic discrimination.
Responses to Discrimination
Understanding the psychological and physical consequences for those who endure ethnic and racial discrimination requires examining how people respond to and cope with such behavior (Krieger & Sidney, 1996; Phinney & Chavira, 1995). For example, Krieger and Sidney (1996) found that African American adults who responded to discrimination by suppressing their frustration suffered four times the rate of hypertension compared to individuals who took a stand against discriminatory treatment. Research has just begun to examine the potential consequences of discrimination among young people in a similar fashion. Prior research has shown that constant exposure to discrimination is related to lower self-esteem in ethnic minority adolescents (Phinney & Chavira, 1995). However, we know little about how methods of responding to discrimination might affect the psychological well-being and development of ethnic minority children.
Models of adult behavior developed by Feagin and colleagues (Feagin, 1991; Feagin & Sikes, 1994) postulated four distinct types of responses to discrimination (withdrawal, resigned acceptance, verbal, and physical confrontation). These responses included withdrawing from the situation of discrimination, ignoring the discrimination while continuing the interaction, verbally challenging the discrimination, and physically responding to the discrimination. However, these categories imply evaluative judgments of behavior. Building on the work of Feagin (1991), Phinney and Chavira (1995) formulated an empirically derived typology of ethnic minority adolescents' responses to racial discrimination. Their ethnic minority adolescent participants endorsed passive, active, or aggressive strategies to respond to racial discrimination. An active response challenges the act of discrimination in an assertive, non-hostile manner, somewhat consistent with Feagin's verbal response. An aggressive response is one of hostility that may include physical threat or harm to the perpetrator of the discrimination. A passive response does not address the act of discrimination in any way; this category collapses Feagin's withdrawal and resigned acceptance categories.
The typology has proven to capture important psychosocial differences among ethnic minority adolescents. Those who use aggressive response styles tend to score lower on measures of self-esteem when compared to ethnic minority adolescents using active response styles (Phinney & Chavira, 1995). However, in constructing sufficiently broad, mutually exclusive categories of behavior, this typology may have ignored variability within response categories. For example, ignoring a discriminatory act while continuing the interaction with the perpetrator may have qualitatively different effects from physically removing oneself from a situation involving discrimination. Examining possible individual difference variables such as ethnic identity development as well as situational influences may help explain variability in preferred responses that is obscured by the typology's broad categories.
Ethnic Identity Development
Racial and ethnic discrimination typically makes salient one's membership in a racial or ethnic group. For example, if a Black student in a school with a completely white …