The more positively minority youth feel about their ethnicity or race, the fewer symptoms of depression and emotional and behavior problems they have, according to a new meta-analysis published in the journal Child Development.
Researchers at Brown University, the University of Minnesota, Arizona State University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the University of Miami found that young people who had positive feelings about their racial or ethnic identity had better social interactions and self-esteem, did well in school, and had fewer problems with drugs or alcohol. Together, the 46 studies reviewed looked at African American, Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and American Indian youth in the United States, primarily middle and high school students.
“This research also refutes the notion that positive racial or ethnic identity is somehow related to having not-so-positive attitudes toward academic achievement,” according to Deborah Rivas-Drake, associate professor of psychology and education at the University of Michigan, who led the meta-analysis.
Separately, educators and parents can take the opportunity to discuss ethnic heritage and race relations with two current events: Black History Month and the 50th anniversary of the introduction to Congress of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Act ultimately passed in July, 1994.