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Abstract

Research suggests retention of childhood memories into adulthood requires such memories to hold a certain amount of importance. Therefore, initial racial memories likely play a role in one’s racialization process, or formulation of an understanding of race. This study uses data from 49 in-depth interviews with white undergraduate students on memories of their first experiences of race. Data generally fell into the categories of private and public racialization. Private racialization included accounts of events that took place at home, primarily consisting of racist joking, derogatory comments, and family storytelling. Public racialization consisted of events that took place outside the home, most commonly at school. Data also revealed interactions between private and public realms, where accommodations were made in private to control, minimize or restrict interracial contact in public.

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This manuscript provides a critical and comprehensive review of research on race socialization within Black families. Race socialization is defined as specific verbal and non-verbal messages transmitted to younger generations for the development of values, attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs regarding the meaning and significance of race and racial stratification, intergroup and intragroup interactions, and personal and group identity. Reviewed are published articles that address either analytical or theoretical approaches to understanding Black families’ race socialization practices. First, theoretical perspectives of the race socialization process are reviewed. Second, this review defines race socialization in Black families. It then describes modes of message transmittal. Next, it focuses on three domains of research on race socialization: (a) prevalence, (b) content, and (c) race socialization as a predictor of child and adult outcomes. It concludes by outlining important challenges and issues in the literature to encourage the development of future research.