Racial socialization refers to the ways people are equipped to negotiate within a racially and ethnically based society. Very little is discussed in the literature about intersections between and among Native American, Hispanic, Asian American, and African American undergraduate students, specifically the differences and similarities in their racial socialization. Our current research, however, investigates these inter/intra-racial communication issues in educational and everyday settings, providing an opportunity to compare the experiences of students from these groups. As part of a larger project (NSF 0431642), this paper analyzes forty 90-minute ethnographic interviews of Native American, Hispanic, Asian American, and African American undergraduate students enrolled in the College of Engineering at a large, predominantly white, Midwestern university. We first examine key dimensions of racial socialization from a communication perspective. We compare and contrast the communicative responses to racial isolation and discrimination between and among each racial/ethnic group as part of an analysis of the varied dimensions of racial socialization. We then interpret each group’s relationship to specific racial socialization dimensions including cultural socialization and perception of bias. Results indicate that our participants have difficulty recognizing and acknowledging discriminatory experiences and are differentially equipped to effectively handle and communicate racial issues. For instance, our African American participants reported receiving instruction from support networks including parents and current peers to recognize and respond to racial bias. On the other hand, our Asian American participants received more cultural socialization than specific skills to deal with racial inequality. These results demonstrate that racial socialization is an ongoing process that is continually developed and influenced by participants’ interactions with peers, family members, classmates, instructors, and strangers.
Wong Lowe, A., M. Flippin, J. Rogers, C. E. Foor and S. E. Walden (2011). Grabbing from my Racial Toolkit: Ethnic-Racial Socialization Between and Among African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic American, and Native American Students. Interracial Communication: Contexts, Communities, and Choices. D. Brunson, L. Lampl and F. Jordan. Dubuque, IA, Kendall/Hunt: 60-81.