Essay on Racial Identity Development : Beyond Black And White

830 Words Oct 15th, 2016 4 Pages
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 self-actualization. The process and emotional toll that each Black and White person goes through is also analogous.
In Cross’s model, the five stages of racial identity evolution are pre-encounter, encounter, immersion/emersion, internalization, and internalization-commitment. The first two phases usually occurs by adolescence. During the pre-encounter period, Black children absorb and adopt white culture while receiving countless subtle racist and devaluing messages. For example, a young Black woman from a predominantly White neighborhood said that her White friends’ parent often commented that she doesn’t seem like all the other Black children because she was nice. This type of judgement as well as the media’s portrayal of Black…

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