On SAGE Insight: Parenting in the Shadow of Ferguson: Racial Socialization Practices in Context

From Youth and Society

Black parents have long faced the task of explaining the meaning of race to their children and preparing them for racist experiences. Parents may be especially prone to discuss race when they or their children directly experience discrimination. Some evidence also suggests that parental practices may be shaped by racist events occurring in the wider community or reported in the media. This qualitative study examines racial socialization practices in the context of a specific racialized event. In 2014, Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teenager, was fatally shot by Darren Wilson, a White police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Officer Wilson claimed self-defense, but other witnesses characterized the incident as a racially motivated attack on a young man in a posture of surrender. Peaceful demonstrations following the incident were accompanied by violent protests and incidences of vandalism and looting. The civil unrest and militarized police response drew widespread media and political attention, and served to place Ferguson at the center of the continuing national debate about race and social injustice in American society. Since the events in Ferguson , Black men have continued to die following encounters with police officers, and protests have continued across the nation.

Abstract

Black parents have long faced the task of explaining the meaning of race to their children and preparing them for racist experiences. This qualitative study examines racial socialization practices in the context of a specific racialized event: the shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri. Data were gathered from 18 Black parents and adolescents living in the St. Louis region in the weeks immediately following the event. Four types of practices were identified: Parents taught their children about the racial context from which the events emerged; they taught their sons strategies to avoid danger and that their lives are valued; they emphasized dissimilarity between their children and those engaging in violent protest; and they encouraged their children to overcome discrimination through individual achievement. Keywords

 

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Article details
Jennifer M. Threlfall
Parenting in the Shadow of Ferguson: Racial Socialization Practices in Context
Youth & Society 0044118X16670280, first published on September 25, 2016 doi:10.1177/0044118X16670280

 

 

 

     
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