Sharmaine D Barnes, LMFT, CEAP
Racial Trauma Specialist
Until lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter
– African Proverb (Igbo, Nigeria)
Racial Identity and Development
Race is a word that is used to describe racial groups such as African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, Latinos and Whites. In the study of race and race relations researchers have developed a theory called racial development. The book New Perspectives on Racial Identity Development – A Theoretical and Practical Anthology, edited by Charmaine L. Wijeyesinghe and Bailey W. Jackson III, along with several other books and researchers/authors provide a growing body of literature on racial identity development.
Racial development has been described as a dynamic developmental process that occurs over time. Racial development is about personal growth. Racial identity is personal development that matures over time and is affected by personal, inter-personal, institutional and cultural environments. In the book New Perspectives on Racial Identity, several racial identities are discussed. No matter what race you identify the most with, all are important to understand when trying to develop racial equality and tolerance.
In the first chapter titled “Black Identity,” development is discussed.
The book describes and charts out that Black Identity Development has five stages of development/growth.
These stages are:
Naïve: The absence of social consciousness or identity.
Acceptance: Suggesting the acceptance of the prevailing White/ majority description and perceived worth of Black people, Black culture or experience.
Resistance: The rejection of the prevailing majority culture’s definition and valuing of Black people and culture.
Redefinition: The renaming, reaffirming and reclaiming one sense of Blackness, Black culture and racial identity.
Internalization: The integration of a redefined racial identification into all aspects in one’s self-concept or identity.