Academic journal article Family Relations

Ethnic-Racial Socialization and Its Correlates in Families of Black-White Biracial Children

Academic journal article Family Relations

Ethnic-Racial Socialization and Its Correlates in Families of Black-White Biracial Children

Article excerpt

Families, especially those of color, engage in ethnic-racial socialization. Parents impart messages and foster behaviors that relate to children's racial group membership, identity, and relations with in- and out-group members (Thornton, Chatters, Taylor, & Allen, 1990). Research has largely examined monoracial families; hence, multiracial children's ethnic- racial socialization is less well understood. First-generation Black-White biracial children (i.e., youth who have one Black-identified and one White-identified biological parent; Daniel, 2002) are of particular interest given that they occupy a unique position in the U.S. racial hierarchy. They belong to two racial groups that have historically been at a great social distance (Rockquemore, Brunsma, & Delgado, 2009) and that view them very differently. Some Whites see multiracial people as harbingers of a postracial era; some Blacks believe that focus on multiraciality compromises Black progress by deemphasizing race (Thornton, 2009). Also, some consider multiracial youth less sociable and less deserving of minority benefits relative to their minority peers (Sanchez & Bonam, 2009). These social challenges may increase biracial children's vulnerability.

Ethnic-racial socialization can promote ethnic-racial identity formation (e.g., Hughes et al., 2006; McHale et al., 2006), mitigate the negative effects of discrimination (e.g., Neblett, Terzian, & Harriott, 2010; Neblett et al., 2008), and enhance social-emotional and cognitive out- comes (e.g., Brittian, Umaña-Taylor, & Derlan, 2013; Caughy, Nettles, & Lima, 2011; Hughes et al., 2006; McHale et al., 2006; Neblett, Rivas- Drake, & Umaña-Taylor, 2012; Neblett et al., 2008). Thus, it is plausible that it demonstrates protective properties for Black-White children's well-being. Findings of past research that treated multiracial people as a homogenous group may not reflect important within-group varia- tion (Binning, Unzueta, Huo, & Molina, 2009), and that Black and White parents likely social- ize their children differently about race (Hamm, 2001). The ecological theory (Bronfenbrenner, 1989) argues that multiple layers of the envi- ronment in tandem with individual characteris- tics affect children's development. Accordingly, ethnic-racial socialization practices (a microsys- temic influence) likely vary among families of Black-White biracial children as a function of different individual, family, and environmental characteristics. Multiracial people are also one of the fastest growing racial groups in the United States (Humes, Jones, & Ramirez, 2011). Thus, it is important to understand how interracial fam- ilies differ in their ethnic-racial socialization in response to children's individual characteristics and their social ecology.

To address these gaps, we extend past work by examining a rich set of child, family, and contextual characteristics along with parents' racial identification of children in a nationally representative sample of young Black-White biracial children's ethnic-racial socialization.

SIGNIFICANCE OF ETHNIC-RACIAL SOCIALIZATION FOR INTERRACIAL FAMILIES

It is important to examine ethnic-racial socialization in families of Black-White biracial children because ethnic-racial socialization can reduce children's developmental vulnerability to social challenges that they may face as a result of their mixed-race background. Findings that ethnic- racial socialization protects youth from the negative effects of discrimination underscore this argument (e.g., Hughes et al., 2006; Neblett et al., 2010; Neblett et al., 2008). Parents may use ethnic-racial socialization to prepare their Black-White biracial children for social chal- lenges associated with their heritage, which includes two groups whose relations have been strained by slavery, antimiscegenation laws, de jure segregation in public venues (e.g., schools), and widespread racial discrimination. …

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