Racial socialization, Ethnic socialization

Document Type

Research Paper


Since the early 1980s, studies have attempted to answer questions regarding the ethnic and racial socialization strategies of parents. The majority of this work has centered on the socialization practices utilized by parents of African American children, with few studies researching the socialization practices of Latinx parents and parents of transracially-adopted children (Hughes et al. 2006). Recently, research regarding the racial socialization practices of white parents has increased. (For an overview of the research I present in this paper, see table on page 48). However, the amount of literature regarding white racial socialization is still less comprehensive than research examining socialization practices within other ethnic groups. Prior research shows that four common themes-cultural socialization, preparation for bias, promotion of mistrust, egalitarianism, and silence about race, emerge in socialization strategies (Hughes et al. 2006). Silence about race aligns with colorblindness, which is a common strategy white parents use to teach their children about race (Hamm 2001, Hagerman 2014, & Kelley 2016). Hughes et al. reminds us that while not talking about race has been often overlooked as a form of socialization, a “failure to mention racial issues also communicates race-related values and perspectives to children” (757). Similarly, Robin DiAngelo acknowledges “white silence” as the tendency of white people to remain silent when given the opportunity to discuss race. DiAngelo suggests that the racial status quo in the United States is racist and that by not speaking up or participating in conversations about race, the status quo is reinforced (2012). In addition, the authors that I discuss posit salient questions about the manner in which parents transmit messages regarding race to their children. I also address parents who hold color-conscious ideologies, examining the possibly unforeseen damage to communities of color that occur when these parents attempt to raise racially-conscious children in a non-mutually beneficial way.



Subjects - Topical (LCSH)

Parents, White--United States--Attitudes; Socialization--United States; Ethnic attitudes--United States; Children, White--United States--Attitudes


Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this document for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author’s written permission.

Geographic Coverage

United States









To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.