Ethnic Identity and African Americans

Topics: Sociology, United Kingdom, Race and Ethnicity Pages: 3 (891 words) Published: April 21, 2005
Ethnic Identity and African Americans

Ethnic Identity
Ethnic identity is the sum total of group member feelings about those values, symbols, and common histories that identify them as a distinct group (Smith 1991). Development of ethnic identity is important because it helps one to come to terms with their ethnic membership as a prominent reference group and significant part of an individuals overall identity. Ethnic reference group refers to an individuals psychological relatedness to groups (Smith 1991). These reference groups help adolescents sense, reflect and see things from the point of their ethnic groups in which they actively participate or seek to participate. What is ethnic identity?

The establishment of identity is an important, complex task for all adolescents, and is considered a major developmental task for all adolescents. It is particularly complicated for adolescents belonging to ethnic and minority groups. Ethnic identity of the majority group of individuals is constantly validated and reinforced in a positive manner where as the minority group is constantly ridiculed and punished in a negative manner. What does this say for those adolescents who are the minority and not the majority? It is important to study or research ethnic identity because it provides better knowledge to help one understand striving for a sense of unity and connectivenesss in which the self provides meaning for direction and meaning of ethnic identity (Spencer, 1990). It is also important to study or research the differences between these groups due to beliefs and values. Adolescents that are the minority are confronted with their ethnicity at an earlier age then Caucasian adolescents majority and they are constantly aware of ethnic differences, which means it is of greater importance to understand the development of the minority individual. It should lead to different assessments when it comes to ethnic identity. For example, African American adolescents are...

References: · Smith, Elise J. Ethnic Identity Development: Toward the Development of A Theory within the Context of Majority/Minority Status. Journal of Counseling and Development: JCD. v70. n1. Sept.1991. p. 181-188.
· Spencer, Margaret Beale. Child Development. v61 n2. Apr. 1990. P. 290-310.
· Dashefsky, A. (Eds.). (1976). Ethnic identity in society. Chicago: Rand McNally College Publishing Co. Smith, E.J. (1991). Ethnic identity development: Toward the development of a theory within the context of majority/minority status. Journal of Counseling and Development, 70, 181-187.
· Steinberg, L. (1996). Adolescence. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc.
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