Ethnic Identity and African Americans Essay

This essay has a total of 893 words and 5 pages.

Ethnic Identity and African Americans

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 psychologically compared to Caucasian American
adolescence diagnoses, which are sometimes inaccurately assessed. Bronfenberner explains
the theoretical perspective such as the ecological perspective by saying, The implications
for clinical treatment of African American adolescents, mental health workers must be
sensitive to the ecological context of their clients. Mental Health workers must realize
that there is no single entity called the black family . The black families compared to
the other families established their American family. He suggests that these families vary
dramatically in backgrounds, social economic status, values, and degree of acculturation
to the norms and values of mainstream America (1990). There are also, significant
differences that may exist in preparation of African American adolescent, at the level of
rearing family practices and in schools (1990). That is, schools continue to reflect
historical values that deal with racial-stereotypes and prejudice and beliefs. At the same
time there are families trying to avoid and make light out of such situations. These
families and communities continue to show constancy by instilling their own beliefs and
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