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Racial Socialization Patterns among African American Families: Racial Discrimination as a Predictor Open Access

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Racial socialization is a prevalent and culturally relevant parenting strategy known to combat the detrimental consequences of racial discrimination for African American youth. While substantial progress has been made in the racial socialization literature, three limitations hinder our comprehensive understanding of this process. Specifically, few studies have accounted for the combination of messages that parents convey; no studies have examined how the combination of parental messages change over time; and it is unknown how parent and adolescent experiences with racial discrimination predict change in the combination of messages parents convey as youth develop. This dissertation used data from the Family and Community Health Study (FACHS) to address three aims: 1) Identify patterns in mothers’ racial socialization messages across several dimensions at two points in adolescent development (i.e., middle and late adolescence); 2) Identify how mothers’ racial socialization patterns change from middle to late adolescence; and 3) Investigate whether mother and adolescent reported personal racial discrimination contribute to changes in mothers’ racial socialization patterns from middle to late adolescence. Latent Profile Analysis and Latent Transition Analysis were used to examine these research questions. Findings revealed that mothers’ messages fell into three patterns in middle and late adolescence: balanced socializers who mistrust, cultural socialization and preparation for bias emphasizers, and low racial socializers. The majority of mothers were in the low racial socializers group, and most mothers provided similar racial socialization messages in middle and late adolescence. Additionally, mother reported racial discrimination influenced the racial socialization messages that they delivered; however, adolescent reported racial discrimination did not influence mothers’ messages. The results have implications for community-based interventions designed to help families discuss and manage racial discrimination.

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