Racial Identity Development Analysis

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Racial Identity Development: Beyond Black and White
In Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria, Beverly Daniel Tatum discusses two theories of racial identity development that she uses as framework for understanding the behavior of Black and White people. Psychologist William Cross’s theory, also referred to as the psychology of nigrescence, explains the five stages that Blacks go through as they grow up and become race-conscious. On the other hand, Janet Helm analyze the process of development for Whites which is incited when the silence about race is broken and Whites also begin to contemplate on their racial identity. The goal of the two theories is very similar and that is to reach internalized self-confidence and
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Black teenagers are becoming more aware of the significance of race and their degrading statue in the society. For example, Malcolm X, who was an A student and the president of his class, was met with rejection when discussing his future plan of becoming a lawyer with his teacher. Instead, he was advised to consider carpentry instead. Malcolm was angry and confused and consequently withdrew from his White classmates. This dramatic example of the encounter stage also shows how one transitions to the next stage of identity development, which is the immersion/emersion stage. Malcolm eventually left his dominantly White school and neighborhood, and moved into a dominantly Black neighborhood, where he immersed himself in learning and appreciating Black …show more content…
At that point, Whites begin their own development of racial identity. According to Helm, the objective for White people is to recognize their race, acknowledge its significance in the society, and establish a positive white identity that is not based on assumed superiority. This is analogous to how Blacks should cultivate a constructive sense of self by disregarding the negative stereotypes and prejudice messages they receive from the white-centric society. However, some Whites can go through adolescence and even adulthood without thinking much about race at all because whiteness is the societal norm. For example, when a young white woman was asked to describe her class and ethnic background, she quickly replied that she’s middle-class but struggled to describe her race, before saying, “I’m just normal.” To many White people who aren’t racially conscious, being white is simply being

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