The Knowledge Base on Resilience in African-American Adolescents
Linda F. Winfield University of Southern California
The purpose of this chapter is to describe what is known about resilience and success among African-American adolescents, with a goal of trying to understand the protective mechanisms and sources contributing to resilience. The introduction provides a brief overview of current conceptualizations of risk and resilience. Next, a discussion is presented of four protective processes and mechanisms that foster resilience. The next section identifies sources within schools at two critical periods: the transition from grade school to middle school, and the transition from high school to college. A major objective is to delineate processes and sources of resilience within schools. The final section examines protective mechanisms within the community, focusing on the role of peers and the church. The concluding section presents methodological and conceptual considerations for further research and implications for designing effective interventions.
After the publication of A Nation at Risk ( National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983), educators, policymakers, and researchers overzealously applied the term at risk to refer to youth who are most likely to experience school failure, teen pregnancy, or some other negative developmental outcome. Although the term is relatively new when applied to youth ( Richardson & Colfer, 1990), the notion of risk has long been used in medical and psychiatric research to specify conditions that make individuals susceptible to disease or mental disorders ( Garmezy, 1983, 1987, 1991; Masten, Best, & Garmezy, 1990; Rutter, 1979, 1987, 1990). Some individuals are resilient and cope successfully, whereas others react negatively. The con-