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Keywords:

  • racial socialization;
  • racial discrimination;
  • substance use;
  • stress;
  • African American;
  • mental health;
  • resilience

Abstract— The experience of race-based discrimination may place African American youth at risk for substance use initiation and substance use disorders. This article examines the potential of parental racial socialization—a process by which parents convey messages to their children about race—to protect against the impact of racial discrimination on substance use outcomes. Focusing on stress as a major precipitating factor in substance use, the article postulates several possible mechanisms by which racial socialization might reduce stress and the subsequent risk for substance use. It discusses future research directions with the goal of realizing the promise of racial socialization as a resilience factor in African American and ethnic minority youth mental health.