The Influence of Racial Socialization on Black Youth

by Shannonodowd on November 13, 2016 - 12:21pm

Davis and Stevenson (2006) study investigated the relationship between racial socialization experiences and depression symptoms such as lethargy, low self-esteem, cognitive difficulties, social introversion, irritability, guilt, pessimism, sad mood, instrumental helplessness, and overall depression amongst black youth. The authors hypothesized that racial socialization contributes significantly to the depression of black youth. The study was conducted with one hundred and eighty African Americans adolescent respondents (76 female) who were working at a preparation program with a mean age of 15.4 years. Data was collected by distributing a demographic questionnaire, the short form of the Multi-Score Depression Inventory (SMDI), the Teenager Experience of Racial Socialization Scale (TERS), and Neighborhood Social Capital Scale (NSC) collected data.  The results obtained by Davis and Stevenson’s study supported their hypothesis that racial socialization experiences have an impact on depression symptoms of black youth. Results show that girls reported high levels of lethargy and cultural pride where as boys have lower levels of cultural pride reinforcement. Levels of high Low self-esteem were seen in both youth who scored high levels of cultural legacy appreciation. Cultural endorsement of the mainstream showed significantly and positively correlated results with low energy, pessimism, guilt, low self-esteem, irritability, and sad mood. Youth from negative life experience neighborhoods scored significantly high lever or irritability and sad mood. Where as youth from negative life experience neighborhoods showed lower degree of instrumental helplessness and low self esteem.  Overall racial socialization and overall depression had a significantly relationship score.   The authors analyzed the results to conclude that both positive and negative neighborhoods in context have a relation with one’s emotional health. Davis and Stevenson also concluded that the egalitarian notion and the American dream can have a negative influence on black youths emotional and spiritual well being which distracts them from their dreams and accomplishments. Moreover, according to the authors high pride in culture results in lower scored in low self esteem and low energy because their pride has motivation that may lead them to search for their access to personal resources and build trust in their potential and various authorities. Lastly, youth in lower resource neighborhoods can lead to the belief that America does not have an open arm concept, which leads them to believe that there is, not hope for their future.  Davis and Stevenson’s conclusion lead to the understanding that black youth who develop feelings of misunderstanding, disrespect, anger and sad have all been a result of the relationship of adults upon the discussion of racial and non-racial powers and the emotions of black youth.

In my opinion I believe that Davis and Stevenson’s study showed a great understanding in the racial discrimination of black youth, whom have lived through a negative experience in their neighborhoods. As we discussed in class, according to Henry and Tator (2000), racism is defined as the actions of a superior group towards a minority as a means of degrading one’s culture based on skin, race, and other physical traits. By applying the definition to the results found amongst the black youth it can easily be said that racial socialization can increase the chances of racist acts amongst youth through family, friends, neighborhoods and many other influential things in adolescents everyday lives. Not only does this study prove the influence of social aspects of youth lives, the results of these influential factors have increased the depression and emotional health issues in black youth today. I believe that this pertinent information can help use further understand the effects of racism as a means of discovering new ways to avoid the negative outcomes of social factors in a black Child’s life. However, although the information they obtained had importance on the comprehension of black youth discrimination, the authors could have included neighborhood danger and ecological factors to further expand their study on the influence of black youth emotional health.   


Davis, Y.G. & Stevenson, C.H. (2006). Racial Socialization Experiences and Symptoms of Depression Among Black Youth. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 15(3), 303-317. doi: 10.1007/s10826-006-9039-8


This post drew my attention because of the study that was being talked about. It is interesting how the environment can truly impact the youth and growing up in the tough streets for young black individuals can be extremely depressing. It is interesting to see the impact that social factors can have on the youth especially the racial socialization. Growing up in a very diverse culture i saw many young black individuals whom I'm friends with have a mentor or older figure they looked up to and they seemed to be extremely happy and able to stay away from the racial socializations in the tough neighborhoods.

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