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Keywords:

  • African American;
  • children;
  • parents;
  • racial socialization

This study examined racial socialization processes among 94 African American parents of third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade children as they were predicted by children's ethnic identity exploration and unfair treatment as well as by parents' ethnic identity and discrimination experiences. Findings indicated that children's ethnic identity exploration and parents' perceptions that their children had been treated unfairly by an adult because of their race were both significantly associated with the frequency of messages to children regarding discrimination (Preparation for Bias). Parents' perceptions of children's unfair treatment from an adult and children's perceptions that they had been treated unfairly by peers were significantly associated with parents' cautions and warnings to children about intergroup relations (Promotion of Mistrust). Moreover, the influence of parents' perceptions on Promotion of Mistrust were especially pronounced when children also reported unfair treatment from adults. Children's identity exploration and unfair treatment were not associated with parents' emphasis on ethnic pride, heritage, and diversity (Cultural Socialization/Pluralism). Thus, findings suggest that parental factors are most central in the racial socialization messages that children receive. However, children's perceptions of discrimination and information seeking regarding their own history appear to have some influence on parental messages about race.