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Chapter 3: Racial Identity in the Social Environment by Mind Map: Chapter 3: Racial Identity in
the Social Environment
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Chapter 3: Racial Identity in the Social Environment

Racial Identity Theories

Theory Defined

A person's racial self-conception as well as his beliefs, attitudes, and values vis-a-vis self relative to racial groups or his own. p. 44

Helms (theorist), Purposed: a person's racial identity is composed of three interacting components, personal, affiliative, and reference group., Personal component: "Who am I?", Affiliative: the extent to which the person believes that what happens to other members of his racial group also happens to him, Reference group: the person's level of conformance to the norms of his ascribed racial group, Summary: Adult role models (e.g. parents) initially influence how the child feels about himself (personal identity), whose values are assumed to be worth imitating (reference group orientation), as well as influence the child's role within his racial community (affiliative identity). (p.45), Teachers and peers may eventually influence the child's racial identity development in alternative directions, but it is the familial environment that provides the foundation for the child's subsequent development. (p.45)

White Racial Identity Theory

The educator's job is to expand their awareness of identity options and raising growth-promoting questions.

An approach for explaining the pathways to a healthy identity for White people. White people's exposure to racial issues generally has others (non-Whites) as the focus, and does not help them understand how unresolved racial developmental issues affect their personal adjustment and well-being.

Each status involves conceptions of the self as a racial being as well as conceptions of self relative to other racial groups. White's privilege in society makes it easier for them to work through issues of racial identity development than can other groups. White children often enter school unaware that race still exists as a volatile issue in the society, or that they can choose what kind of White person they will be.

Contact (p. 50-51), Lack of consciousness of one's own race and either naive curiosity or timidity with respect to other groups., Use of this schema is either due to being taught to pretend that racial differences do not matter or due to lack of exposure to other groups., Contact children may be aware of their appropriate racial self-label (White), but may have very little reality-based sense of what it actually means to be White., Educator's interventions for children in this stage should involve providing accurate and honest information about various racial/ethnic groups as well as "safe" exposure to various groups via guests, outings, and media.

Disintegration (p. 50), Primary theme: guilt and confusion, Represents the the White person's ongoing acknowledgment that being White has social implications that often force the White person to face moral dilemmas that arise from being considered to be better than other groups., Educators should design interventions that help the children distinguish personal responsibility from group responsibility. (Role plays, reading, and discussions will help children analyze how behaviors affect self and others.)

Reintegration (p. 50-51), As a means of resolving Dissonance, the Reintegrating person adopts an orientation in which everything White is considered to be superior to everything that is not., Rigid in beliefs and learned justification for why they are better., In general, the group identifications associated with this schema are based on shared views of White superiority and denigration and hostility directed toward other groups., Educators primary focus should be reeducation aimed at eliciting the stereotypes of all the racial groups within the environment and providing contrary information.

Pseudo-Independence (p. 51), Represents an immature positive non-racist identity. Basic themes are intellectualization and paternalism., Children have a generally positive view of themselves as White persons; feeling superior without intending to., Educators should encourage and devise activities that stimulate the child's curiosity and critical thinking about racial issues. Exposing them to a variety of situations that contradict prevailing White stereotypes about People of Color should facilitate this process.

Autonomy (p. 52), The most cognitively and affectively complex status of White identity development and might best be thought of as an ongoing process of refinement of one's racial identity., Primary themes: internalizing, nurturing, and applying a more complex personal definition of Whiteness to interpret life events., Autonomous children are generally cognitively flexible and open to new information and new ways of thinking about racial and cultural variables., Educators can act as a consultant who helps children channel their energies into practicable goals and activities.

Racial Identity Interaction Theory

Hypothesizes that the child's level of identity in combination wtih other's identitoies can result in qualitatively different educational experiences for the child. (p. 53-56)

Three types of potential interactions: parallel, regressive, and progressive. Interactions are conceptualized from the perspective of the person with less social power., Parallel relationship: one in which the educator and the student in the interaction use the same (if they are of the same race) or analogous (if different races) racial identity schemas., Regressive relationships: on in which the educator is less developmentally advanced with respect to racial identity development than the student., Progressive relationships: the educator's identity status is more advanced than the student's. The educator can become a role model.

"Social power": defined according to social roles, numerical presence, and/or sociopolitical histories of the racial groups within the environment.

Racial Identity and People of Color

There is research on many ethnic groups, however, the majority of it continues to focus on Black Americans. The People of Color model of racial identity is intended to describe the the developmental process as it pertains to the shard themes of development rather than the unique.


Characterized by the general theme of superiority of Whites and White culture and the denigration of "color" and of the culture of the Peoples of Color.

Expressed by the child who (or whose parents) attempts to emphasoxe "White" physical characteristics and de-emphasize or eliminate the characteristics that mean color in this society., Educators can reinforce a Conformity Reference Group Orientation (RGO) by not providing contradictory information

Dissonance (p.47)

This status involves confusion about how one regards one's racial group, On the one hand, there is considerable societal exposure to the theme that "White is best," but because of some personally meaningful events, individuals may begin to realize that they are not really members of the White group., On the other hand, a lack of exposure to the benefits of belonging to one's own group can leave individuals with no group with which to identify.

Often expressed as euphoria as individuals first realize that their own culture represents an alternative to White culture. Also expressed as anxiety and/or depression as one becomes aware of one's marginality with respect to the available racial/ethnic groups., The sensitive teacher will provide opportunities for positive acknowledgement of the child's racial group membership without making the child an oddity.

Immersion/Emersion (p.47-48)

Idealization of the group of color and denigration of Whites. Two different aspects:, First, involves a withdrawal from everything assumed to reflect White culture in response to anger generated by one's increasing awareness of the consequences of racial oppression., Immersion: the interpretation of what characterizes their racial group is naive because it is likely to be an enactment of society's view of the group, Second, involves intensive attempts to learn about one's own racial group., Emersion: this aspect allows a great opportunity for helping children develop a positive view of their racial group as well as of self with respect to the group, Educator's task when confronted with students using this schema is to help them channel their anger and energy into positive group-affirming activities and assignments.

Internalization (p. 48)

Children using the Internalization schema interact with others with a positive sense of themselves as racial beings., Capable of functioning across racial groups and are often put in the role of mediator when racial conflicts arise among peers., Educators need to be aware of this and assume the responsibility of teaching about race relations.

Integrative Awareness (p. 49)

The integration and resolution of issues pertaining to one's various demographic identities and the recognition of shared conditions of oppression or advantage with a variety of groups that society accords differential statuses., Adults and other children are often threatened by children who can accept and value aspects of themselves and other people that are distasteful to them., Educators need to learn to value a wide range of diversity themselves so that they will be prepared to foster a climate where valuing of diversity is the norm rather than the exception.