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Effects of Racism on Child Development: Advancing Antiracist Developmental Science



Racism, a multidimensional system of oppression and exclusion, is part of the foundation of the United States and is detrimental to the health and well-being of Black communities and other racially and ethnically minoritized (REM) communities. There is an emerging body of literature that draws attention to the impact of racism and different racialized experiences on the lives of REM children. Based on the Racism + Resilience + Resistance Integrative Study of Childhood Ecosystem (R ³ ISE) and focused on attending to the interaction between racism and the cultural assets of REM families and communities, this review highlights how racism impacts REM children's healthy development and learning. In addition to calling for research that advances racial equity using the R ³ ISE integrative model, we also identify policies that have some potential to ensure equity in economic stability and security, home and community environment, birth outcomes, and educational opportunities for REM children and their families. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Developmental Psychology, Volume 4 is December 2022. Please see for revised estimates.
Effects of Racism on Child Development: Advancing Anti-racist Developmental Science
Iheoma U. Iruka
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Nicole Gardner-Neblett
University of Michigan
Nicole A. Telfer
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Nneka Ibekwe-Okafor
Boston University
Stephanie M. Curenton
Boston University
Jacqueline Sims
Boston University
Amber B. Sansbury
George Mason University
Corresponding Author:
Iheoma U. Iruka, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
Campus Box 3435, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3435, USA.
Racism and Child Development
Racism, a multidimensional system of oppression and exclusion, is part of the foundation of the
United States and is detrimental to the health and well-being of Black communities and other
racially and ethnically minoritized (REM) communities. There is an emerging body of literature
that draws attention to the impact of racism and different racialized experiences on the lives of
REM children. Based on the Racism + Resilience + Resistance Integrative Study of Childhood
Ecosystem (R3ISE), focused on attending to the interaction between racism and cultural assets of
REM families and communities, this chapter highlights how racism impacts REM children’s
healthy development and learning. In addition to calling for research that advances racial equity
using the R3ISE integrative model, we also identify policies that have some potential to ensure
equity in the economic stability and security, home and community environment, birth outcomes,
and educational opportunities for REM children and their families. (Word count=150)
Keywords: racism; child development; anti-racism; Black; minoritized; racial equity
Racism and Child Development
Effects of Racism on Child Development: Advancing Anti-racist Developmental Science
Racism is one of the most pernicious and trauma-causing factors impacting U.S.
children’s healthy development (Saleem et al., 2020; Trent et al., 2019). It is a system of
hierarchy and privilege based on one’s skin color (i.e., race) and a core foundation of the United
States (Delgado & Stefancic, 2017). While there has been increased attention to the impact of
racism on children’s development from leading organizations (e.g., American Academy of
Pediatrics, Society for Research in Child Development), there has been limited attention to the
impact of racism in developmental science and how racism in all of its forms, directly and
indirectly, impacts children’s development and learning. We seek to unpack the different
formulations of racism and, more precisely, uncover how systemic racism, structured to maintain
power and privilege within White America and White culture, has created the cycle of
deprivation and disparities we see before birth and throughout children’s life course.
Taking a holistic approach to understanding the multiple ways racism affects children’s
development is a fundamental task for developmental science. The extant theoretical frameworks
of developmental science, however, are limited in their conceptualizations of the multiple forms
through which racism affects children. We present the Racism + Resilience +Resistance
Integrative Study of Childhood Ecosystem (R3ISE) to address this limitation. This integrated
model builds upon prior frameworks to comprehensively account for how racism affects
children. We simultaneously call attention to how families of color activate their cultural assets
to thrive in a racist and inequitable society, and also call on developmental science to expand its
attention to identify anti-racist policies and practices that dismantle structural racism, biases, and
other systemic inequities.
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Our ultimate goal is to stimulate developmental science that is anti-racist at its core,
equity-centered and culturally grounded in its approach. To this end, this article describes the
multiple forms through which racism affects children’s health, development, and learning and
the costs of racism on society. We then review the major theoretical frameworks of
developmental science and present the R3ISE integrative model as an alternative to moving the
field forward in conducting anti-racist developmental science. We end with examples of
potential policies that can begin to mitigate the adverse impact of racism and discrimination,
recognizing that one policy alone cannot address the multiple and complex ways that racism
impacts children’s development and learning.
The Dual Pandemics of Racism and COVID-19
While the racist system and practice of oppression, dehumanization, and inequity have
mostly remained invisible for a large segment of the U.S. population, the global pandemic
Coronavirusmade it more visible. COVID-19 has emerged as a “racial macro stressor”
(Seaton, 2020), exacerbating preexisting inequitable conditions for racially and ethnically
marginalized groups. Black
, Latine
, and American Indian/Alaska Native
communities have
experienced higher hospitalization and mortality rates due to COVID-19 than White
communities (Tai et al., 2021). While Asian communities appear to have experienced COVID-19
similar to White communities (Tai et al., 2021), recent evidence shows a multi-fold increase in
anti-Asian harassment and attacks, primarily driven by divisive language linking China and the
Coronavirus (Wang et al., 2020). COVID-19 has had disproportionate financial impacts on
racially and ethnically minoritized (REM) communities as they have experienced greater
employment instability and higher job losses than White Americans, which exacerbated existing
racial wealth gaps (Tai et al., 2021). Employment losses also contributed to greater housing
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instability and food insecurity, and less access to affordable health insurance, leaving many
racially and ethnically marginalized families in precarious financial situations.
School closures due to COVID-19 also disproportionately affected Black, Latine, and
Native American children, who were less likely to have access to in-person learning and were
unable to engage with remote learning due to unreliable internet connectivity or a lack of
computer technology relative to their White counterparts (Tai et al., 2021; Yip, 2020).
Furthermore, Black, Latine, and Native American parents are more likely to be employed as
essential workers (e.g., energy, child care, agriculture and food production, retail, transportation)
and thus unable to work from home during the pandemic. As a result, their children were less
likely to receive parental academic supervision and support for remote learning (Gaylord-Harden
et al., 2020; Lopez et al., 2020; Tsethlikai et al., 2020). U.S. children have experienced losses of
one-third of their pre-pandemic reading gains and one-half of their pre-pandemic math gains,
thus further exacerbating previous achievement disparities caused by systemic racism (Gaylord-
Harden et al., 2020). Students in majority-Black schools are now 12 months behind their peers in
majority-White schools, having started the pandemic nine months behind (Dorn et al., 2021).
Isolation from social distancing has also left children without familial and peer support, critical
for their psychological well-being. In addition, Black children and their families have faced race-
related trauma during the pandemic from the increased visibility of disproportionate police
brutality against Black people (Gaylord-Harden et al., 2020).
These disparate effects of COVID-19 on the health, social, education, and economic
outcomes of REM families and communities are especially concerning for young children. The
early years are a sensitive period for children’s healthy development (National Academies of
Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine [NASEM], 2019). Children’s health, development, and
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learning are shaped by the interactions occurring in the biological and neurological systems of
the body and the family and community environments, resulting in lifelong consequences. Racial
and ethnic minoritized children who are disproportionately impacted by historical and
contemporary inequities such as intergenerational poverty, physical, social, and economic
segregation, and the Coronavirus are especially vulnerable to adversities, leading scientists to
term this effect as a “dual pandemic” – structural racism and Coronavirus (Brodie et al., 2021).
Defining Racism
One of the first scholars to define racism was Jones (1972), who conceptualized it as “the
exercise of power against a racial group defined as inferior by individuals and institutions with
the intentional or unintentional support of the entire culture” (p. 117). These racial groups are not
biologically based, but socially constructed based on skin color, hair texture, and other physical
attributes. As a social construct, race was engineered to organize and communicate who has
power and who does not. Race continues to be used to distort views of groups, such as seeing
groups as threatening, lazy, etc. It is also used to justify oppression and exclusion woven into
every fabric of society (e.g., Harrell et al., 2011).
Racism is multidimensional, operates on various levels, and can set the foundation of
child health and adult development in complex ways (NASEM, 2019). Jones (1972) described
racism as individual, institutional/systemic, and cultural. Individual racism, also known as
interpersonal racism, is based on beliefs of the superiority of one racial group over another and
can consist of behaviors that result in discrimination that preserves racial power differentials.
Institutional racism consists of policies, laws, and practices that grant privileges and
opportunities to some groups and not others despite being guaranteed to all within institutions
like the education, housing, labor, and criminal justice systems. Cultural racism refers to a global
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perspective that reflects beliefs in the supremacy of one group over another and is entrenched in
people’s ideological views, everyday behaviors, language, symbols, and media (e.g., White
people are regarded as beautiful, intelligent, worthy, and something to which others aspire, and
their values are the norms).
Over the past five decades, other forms of racism have been identified. Structural racism
(interchangeable with systemic and institutional racism) refers to racism as an organized system
where policies, practices, and norms and deeply rooted and interconnected within and across
various systems to support and maintain racial inequalities in the social, political, and economic
systems (Bonilla-Silva, 2017). Internalized racism is when a racially/ethnically minoritized
person adopts the race-based feelings, values, ideology, and attitudes of White supremacy about
one’s racial or ethnic group leading to feelings of inadequacy, disgust, and self-doubt about
oneself (e.g., Jones, 2000). Vicarious racism refers to indirect experiences of “hearing about or
seeing racist acts committed against other members of one’s racial group” (Chae et al., 2021, p.
509). Other forms of racism include everyday racism (e.g., microaggressions), cyber racism
(e.g., online/digital racism), symbolic/modern racism (e.g., negative beliefs or stereotypes), and
aversive/implicit/contemporary racism (i.e., avoidance of particular racial groups) (see Neblett,
2019 for a review). These various forms of racism operate and morph unpredictably through
different institutions and individuals (Anderson et al., 2021).
Mechanisms of Racism in the Early Years
We highlight a few mechanisms through which racism affects children’s health,
development, and learning opportunities: (1) economic stability and security; (2)
neighborhood/community; (3) birth outcomes; and (4) educational opportunities and outcomes.
Economic Stability and Security
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Studies link living in poverty to children’s development and learning through a variety of
pathways, including parental economic stress, which leads to poor parental engagement and non-
responsive interactions, financial resources which provide enriching learning materials (e.g.,
books), opportunities, and experiences (e.g., extracurricular activities), and healthy environments
(i.e., lead-free, nutritious food, good neighborhood, and schools) and time to engage in bonding
and contingent conversations (Aber et al., 1997; NASEM, 2019). Unfortunately, due to many
historical and contemporary factors, including inequitable access to education attainment that
leads to stable employment opportunities leading to low wage positions, and most importantly,
limited access to financial resources and opportunities to build economic stability and mobility
(i.e., wealth), Black, Native Americans, and Latine households are likely to live in poverty.
According to the 2020 U.S. Census, almost one out of five children live in poverty (18%),
translating to over 12 million children living in poverty. While the rate of young children in
poverty is about 9% for Asians/Pacific Islanders and Whites, it more than doubles for Hispanics
(27%), Blacks (29%), and Native Americans (34%) (Chen & Thomson, 2021). Furthermore,
current racial disparities in economic vulnerability (i.e., poverty) can be directly linked to the
racial wealth gap, with White families having more than 8-10 times greater wealth than Latine
and Black families (McIntosh et al., 2020). Wealth provides numerous resources and social
capital to simultaneously buffer children from adversities and accelerate their learning
opportunities and progress (Miller et al., 2021). Unfortunately, extensive evidence indicates that
children growing up in poverty are likely to experience economic, health, and social
vulnerability in their adulthood, leading to intergenerational poverty (Duncan et al., 2010), and
this is primarily felt by Black people, especially men (Chetty et al., 2018).
Neighborhood and Community Environment
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Due to structural racism that systematically segregates racially/ethnically minoritized
families, especially Black families, into particular communities coupled with institutionalized
racism that denies federally backed financing or offers higher and more expensive loan products
to Black families (e.g., Bailey et al., 2020), it is not surprising that REM children would
experience disparities in their home and community environments. Where children live
determines multiple factors that impact their health, education, and development. Racial
segregation relegates Black and Latine children to grow up in neighborhoods characterized by
higher proportions of racial/ethnic minoritized populations and concentrated poverty than their
White counterparts, who are more likely to live in communities of concentrated wealth with
higher proportions of White people (Bullock, 2019). These patterns of racial segregation have
ramifications for the opportunities and hazards to which children are exposed.
Numerous studies show that neighborhood conditions and resources, such as access to
adequate early childhood programs, libraries, schools, health facilities, and green spaces,
influence children’s development and long-term outcomes (Acevedo-Garcia et al., 2020),
including academic achievement (e.g., Torrats-Espinosa, 2020; Wei et al., 2018), cognitive skills
(e.g., Vinopal & Morrissey, 2020) and behavioral development (e.g., Loftus et al., 2020). White
and Asian/Pacific Islander children are more likely to live in neighborhoods characterized by
health, cognitive, and social promoting conditions and resources, such as higher quality early
childhood education and schools and availability of healthful foods, which benefit children’s
development and long-term outcomes (Acevedo-Garcia et al., 2020). Using the Child
Opportunity Index, a measure of 29 neighborhood-level indicators in education, health,
environment, and socioeconomic domains, researchers found that across the 100 largest
metropolitan areas, White and Asian/Pacific Islander children lived in neighborhoods that scored
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much higher in “child opportunity” than neighborhoods where Native American, Black, and
Hispanic children lived (Acevedo-Garcia et al., 2020).
These structural inequities have cascaded impacts on REM children’s lives, such as
exposure to environmental toxins and concentrated disadvantage, placing them at risk for
detrimental outcomes. These hazards include, but are not limited to, air pollution (e.g.,
Commodore et al., 2021; Mullen et al., 2020), noise pollution (e.g., Collins et al., 2019), and lead
poisoning (e.g., Baek et al., 2021; Egendorf et al., 2021). Children are most likely to be exposed
to these toxins in their homes (e.g., Manduca & Sampson, 2021; Wheeler et al., 2019) and
schools (e.g., Collins et al., 2019; Grineski & Collins, 2018), the two places where they spend
the majority of their time. Air quality, in particular, has been linked with the prevalence and
severity of childhood asthma, with higher levels of air pollution exacerbating asthmatic
symptoms (e.g., Commodore et al., 2021; Kranjac et al., 2017). Black and Hispanic children are
more likely to be exposed to higher levels of air pollution due to higher traffic levels in their
neighborhoods and have a higher prevalence of asthma/asthma-like symptoms than White and
Asian children (Commodore et al., 2021).
Another environmental toxin associated with racial disparities in development and
learning is lead exposure. Lead exposure is hazardous to young children as it impairs their brain
and nervous systems and can result in delayed growth and development and difficulties with
learning or behavioral regulation (Baek et al., 2021). Compared to White children, Black
children are more likely to live in substandard housing with deteriorating lead-based paint
(Wheeler et al., 2019), drink water contaminated by lead (Davis, 2021), or be exposed to lead in
soil (Egendorf et al., 2021), and are thus more at risk for exposure to lead poisoning. A recent
study explored the geographic distribution of lead hazard risk in residential areas and found that
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areas that have very high or high levels of lead risk had more than 50% of Black and Hispanic
children residing in those areas compared to areas with low levels of lead risk, which had more
than 50% of White children living in those areas (Baek et al., 2021).
Birth Outcomes
As early as the perinatal period, structural racism impacts preterm birth (Martin et al.,
2019), birthweight (Collins et al., 2004), and the quality-of-care infants receive in neo-natal
intensive care units (Profit et al., 2017). Further, international evidence suggests that experiences
of racial discrimination during pregnancy are linked with higher cortisol reactivity among infants
following birth (Thayer et al., 2015), potentially leading to adverse birthing outcomes, such as
pre-term and low birthweight. Children born pre-term and low birthweight are more likely to
have cognitive (e.g., developmental, language delay), behavioral (e.g., attention difficulty), and
health (e.g., rehospitalization, respiratory) challenges compared to babies born at term and
normal birth weight (Petrou et al., 2001). These early life challenges due to birthing outcomes
have been linked to children’s school achievement and attainment and social problems (Hack et
al., 1995; Johnson, 2007). Evidence consistently shows racial disparities in birth outcomes, with
preterm birth rates at 1.6 times higher for Black women than White women and a greater
prevalence of low birth weight among Black infants (Alhusen et al., 2016). Although the infant
mortality rate for infants in the first year of life has been declining in the U.S., the rate is still
more than twice as high for Blacks compared to Whites (Blacks: 10.8 infant deaths per 1,000
births; Whites: 4.6 infant deaths per 1,000 births; Clay, 2022; Ely & Driscoll, 2021). The reasons
for these early racial disparities are mixed, as exposure to risk and protective factors (e.g.,
maternal health behaviors, social support, prenatal care) do not sufficiently account for the
disparities (Alhusen et al., 2016; Lu & Halfon, 2003). Researchers are finding support for
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lifetime exposure to structural racism and discrimination as a chronic stressor that operates on
multiple levels with adverse effects on birth outcomes (e.g., Alhusen et al., 2016), including
racial disparities in maternal mortality (Collier & Molina, 2019). Kuzawa and Sweet (2009)
emphasize the interdependent process of uterine environment and epigenetic processes with
racism and racialized stress leading to metabolic alterations in the uterine environments that are
transgenerational, threatening the wellbeing of the fetus over generations.
Educational Opportunities
Early childhood education intervention programs that provide safe and healthy
environments with responsive early childhood professionals who provide language and
cognitively-enriching instruction and interactions lead to positive cognitive, language, and socio-
emotional development that set children up for school and life (Karoly, 2016). However, there
are racial disparities in children’s access to these high-quality early care and education (ECE)
programs, showing that Black and Latine children are more likely to attend lower-quality
programs than White children (Early et al., 2010; Valentino, 2018). There is some indication that
the reason for these disparities may be a function of children’s proximity to fewer community
resources like high-quality child care providers (i.e., structural racism), thus limiting their access
(Latham et al., 2021). Hardy et al. (2020) found that Black and Hispanic children lived in
neighborhoods where there were 90 and 100 eligible children per center, respectively, compared
to 60 eligible White children, showing the equitable investments made where Black and Latine
children live, who are more likely to need such services. Even in instances where universal ECE
programs are created, such as the PreK program in New York City, studies show a large and
significant gap in the quality provided to Black children compared to White children and a
slightly smaller gap in quality between Hispanic and White children and Asian and White
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children (Latham et al., 2021); these racial disparities in access to quality in universal Pre-K
programs are also seen in the Boston Public School system (Shapiro et al., 2019). While the
plausible reasons for these disparities are complex, it is likely due to the continued impact of
racial segregation of communities with Black children and other children of color, which may
affect the quality of the learning environment, the availability of qualified workforce,
wraparound care including transportation, resource allocation, and other social capital and
networks that provide unmeasured advantage which impact children’s development and learning.
Beyond access to ECE programs and services, there is a need to attend to the experiences
with data suggesting biased unfair and harsh treatment and interactions by education
professionals and staff (i.e., interpersonal racism) (e.g., Bryan, 2020; Gilliam et al., 2016). Black
boys are 2.5 times more likely to be suspended than their White counterparts for the same
behavior. Further, the Office for Civil Rights (2014) has found that while Black children
represent 18% of preschool enrollment, they make up almost half of preschool children receiving
more than one out-of-school suspension; in comparison, White children represent 43% of
preschool enrollment but 26% of preschool children receiving more than one out of school
suspension. While there are many possible reasons for the racial disproportionality in suspension
and expulsion, scholars focus on teachers' implicit biases against Black children, especially boys
(Gilliam et al., 2016; Pigott & Cowen, 2000). Experiences of racism among Black boys have
been linked with greater feelings of hopelessness and lower self-concept (Nyborg & Curry,
In sum, we argue that these racial and ethnic disparities in economic stability and
security, neighborhood and community environment, birth outcomes, and educational
opportunities which lead to adverse outcomes for Black, Native American, and Hispanic children
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are due to structural racism (Jones, 1972). Some of these racist policies include exclusion from
home and business ownership, limited access to voting, stolen land, segregated schools and
communities, and mass incarceration that are further exacerbated and maintained by biases in
institutions such as the financial industry (e.g., home and business finance loans), the criminal
justice system (i.e., mass incarceration), education systems (e.g., separate and unequal), and
inequitable health system (e.g., Bailey et al., 2020). Disparities are further felt at the
interpersonal level that subjugate people of color to loan denial by bankers, homes being
systematically devalued by appraisal agents, police shooting of unarmed Black people,
disproportionate suspension and expulsions in schools by teachers and school officials, and
discriminatory treatment by medical professional (e.g., denial of medical intervention for pain
management of Black people). Thus, the patterns of racial and ethnic disparities in these
outcomes are by-products of racism occurring at multiple levels, repeatedly and over time.
Scholars have noted the tax exerted by racism on the development and well-being of
Black children and other children of color, which can be seen in their economic, birth, and
educational vulnerabilities (Iruka, Durden, et al. 2021). While one estimate has estimated racism
has cost the U.S. economy up to $16 trillion over the past 20 years, primarily due to the wealth
gap, homeownership, access to higher education, and lending practices (Ouvaroff & Liu, 2020),
there is a cost being exacted on children’s healthy development and opportunity to learning and
lead healthy lives (Trent et al., 2019). The American Academy of Pediatrics has flagged racism
as a core social determinant of health that drives health inequities (Trent et al., 2019). Even
children’s secondhand exposure to racism (i.e., vicarious racism) creates racial stress and trauma
(Curenton et al., 2021; Heard-Garris et al., 2018; Saleem et al., 2020). All these visible and
invisible impacts of various forms of racism likely create insurmountable costs on health care,
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education, and social services systems, and broader costs to society such as loss of work
productivity and tax revenue.
Key Theoretical Frameworks of Developmental Science
For years, the bioecological model by Bronfenbrenner has been used to understand how a
child’s innate qualities and environments influence growth and development in different settings
(Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 2007). Within this framework, the child remains at the core with five
encompassing systems (i.e., microsystem, mesosystem, macrosystem, exosystem, chronosystem)
that are both intimate and broad, and each system interacts with one another. Despite the
significance of the bioecological model, limitations exist. Specifically, while the model
highlights the importance of considering the role of context in children's developmental
outcomes, it does not consider the role of racism, oppression, and inequity in their lives.
García Coll and colleagues’ (1996) integrative model for the study of developmental
competencies in minority children is one example of this gap being addressed. This model
highlights that children’s social identities, such as their race, social class, and gender, position
them to have particular experiences and access to opportunities and resources which can
influence their developmental competencies and later life outcomes. For example, Black youth
are more likely to be disproportionately and harshly disciplined compared to their White peers,
placing them at risk of the school-to-prison pipeline (Whaley & McQueen, 2020), which has
downstream impacts on their life course as well as those of their children and family (e.g.,
unemployment, poverty, depression).
While not standard models used in traditional developmental science, other frameworks
are essential in addressing the gap in the bioecological model, including critical race theory
(CRT; Crenshaw et al., 1995), structural determinants of early learning (SDoEL; Iruka, 2020),
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and life course theory (Elder Jr., 1998) (note: this is not an exhaustive list). CRT was birthed in
the 1970s during a movement and is an essential framework for understanding children’s
development because it challenges us to reflect on how racism is embedded in policies and legal
systems (e.g., health, education, criminal justice, child welfare, financing) (Delgado & Stefancic,
SDoEL, based on the structural determinants of health, underscores the role of social
policies such as economics, health, education, and labor in creating structures that have a varying
impact based on one’s socioeconomic position, including race, ethnicity, gender, and occupation
(Iruka, 2020). These structures impact children’s development through intermediary
determinants such as a household’s material circumstances (e.g., resource availability,
neighborhood quality), behavior (e.g., interactions, relationships), biological (physical health),
and psychosocial (e.g., stress) factors. For example, restrictive state- and national-level policies
impact Latine children’s mental health, psychosocial and academic outcomes through racial
profiling, discrimination, detention and deportations, economic insecurity, and emotional stress,
disrupting children’s ecosystem through separation and trauma (Ayón, 2017; Lovato et al.,
Considering the link between early adversities in the early years, a sensitive period of
development, and healthy development in adulthood, life course perspectives contend that the
stress-related effects of such social contexts, systems, and policies, are particularly salient during
windows of heightened vulnerability (e.g., Shonkoff et al., 2021). During these sensitive periods,
life course models recognize the short-term impacts of stressors, such as racism, and emphasize
the long-term implications of such stressors for health and well-being, particularly when they are
experienced cumulatively or chronically. Such exposure may shift set points in the myriad
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systems involved in stress responses, such as the metabolic and cardiovascular systems, by
affecting critical areas of the brain, including those that help restore homeostasis in times of
stress by effectively curbing adaptive stress responses (McEwen & Seeman, 1999). Because
racism places Black children and other REM children at higher risk for experiencing stressors
such as psychological distress (Sanders-Phillips, 2009), racism may upregulate their stress
response systems, thus leading to dysregulation (Goosby et al., 2018). Life course perspectives
also highlight the concept of linked lives, recognizing that individuals are interdependent and
that stressors experienced by individuals will affect those in their contexts, such as families or
neighborhoods (Gee et al., 2012).
Some of these frameworks highlight the resilience of REM families and communities in
response to racism and systemic exclusion. There are practices that REM families are likely to
engage in as a form of coping from, navigating through, and, most critically, fighting for access
to equal opportunities and resources; these are a form of resistance. Yosso (2005) highlights
several cultural assets that REM communities engage in as evidence of their strength and
resilience: aspirational, linguistic, familial, social, navigational, and resistant. Given the
pervasiveness of chronic stressors due to racism, social support and family and kinship bonds are
highly critical (Stamps et al., 2021). For example, we know that Black families and other
families of color engage in cultural socialization practices to help their children cope with a
racist society that is likely to mistreat them. These cultural socialization practices have been
linked to children and youth’s positive racial identity, promoting psychosocial functioning,
mental health, and academic achievement (Rivas-Drake et al., 2014).
The Racism + Resilience +Resistance Integrative Study of Childhood Ecosystem (R3ISE)
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Leveraging these existing theoretical frameworks and emerging models that incorporate
racism in children’s healthy development (e.g., Slopen & Heard-Garris, 2022; Stern et al., 2021),
we call for an integrated model based on these frameworks called Racism + Resilience
+Resistance Integrative Study of Childhood Ecosystem (R3ISE integrative model) (see Figure
Figure 1. Racism + Resilience +Resistance Integrative Study of Childhood Ecosystem (R3ISE)
Note. Vicarious racism and other forms of racism are not pictures
R3ISE is an integrated model that recognizes that to support children’s optimal
development and ensure they thrive, we must recognize the interplay between racism and family
and community cultural assets. This model emphasizes the multidimensionality of racism, taking
into account children's gender, age, sex, and health, starting with cultural racism, which is deeply
rooted in the cultural fabric of the U.S. society (i.e., the water we swim in), and is perpetuated
through the societal structures and institutions (i.e., structural/institutional racism), racist
interactions between individuals experienced personally (i.e., interpersonal racism) or indirectly
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(i.e., vicarious racism), and adoption of racialized attitudes about own racial group (i.e.,
internalized racism). While not pictured, we are beginning to understand the emerging impact of
various forms of racism, including vicarious, cyber, and aversive racism, to name a few. At the
same time, families bring multiple forms of capital (i.e., assets) that foster resiliency and support
their children in overcoming the challenges of living through various forms of racism.
Why the R3ISE Integrative Model is Needed
The R3ISE integrative model is an opportunity to advance science to understand the
impact of racism on child development and mitigating processes. Developmental science, as a
field, has been slow in the uptake of examining the effects of racism on children’s learning and
achievement, and identifying policies and practices to combat these adversities. The R3ISE
integrative model provides a framework for use to conceptualize all the key mechanisms by
which racism, both interpersonal and structural, exerts its effects on children’s growth and
learning. Presently, there is no metric by which we can examine how racism affects all domains
of development (physical, social, emotional, and cognitive) within or across ecological contexts.
Furthermore, many measures of racism assess racism on an individual-interpersonal rather than
at the societal-structural level. While research has shown that individual-interpersonal
experiences of discrimination are strong factors for predicting children’s healthy growth and
development (Sanders-Phillips, 2009), it is clear that structural racism also exerts a powerful
Societal-structural racial discrimination is often hard to measure because the problem
seems so vast and multi-faceted. However, Acevedo-Garcia et al. (2013) explain that the
experience of racial/ethnic residential segregation is a form of institutional discrimination that is
not always fully captured because it may affect children either directly or indirectly through
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individual-interpersonal and societal-structural discrimination. Therefore, any measure of racism
in children’s lives must consider the multiple forms of racism in households’ material
circumstances and behavior and biological and psychosocial functioning. The R3ISE integrated
model also encourages the examination of cultural assets that may be activated in response to
racism and discrimination (e.g., pool funds for multi-family housing), an aspect often overlooked
for REM families and children.
The Effects of Different Forms of Racism on Child Development
We briefly describe in this section how the different forms of racism in the R3ISE
integrative model affect young children, such as through their development, experiences, and
outcomes. While we recognize the various forms of racism (e.g., cyber racism, aversive racism),
we are limited by the current science and knowledge related to young children’s development,
experiences, and outcomes.
Cultural racism is entrenched in people’s ideological views and everyday behaviors. For
example, there is an underlying tone that views Black, Latine, and other people of color as lazy,
dangerous, and unworthy of opportunities, which results in the harmful interactions with law
enforcement, mass incarceration, disparities in hiring and leadership opportunities, inadequate
health service, and so much more. It is also seen in the harsh and punitive treatment of children
with Black children likely to be viewed as older, more culpable, and less empathetic, leading to
adultification (Cooke & Halberstadt, 2021), as well as the lower expectation and learning
opportunities provided to Black children and other children of color (Gardner-Neblett et al.,
2021). As noted by Gardner-Neblett et al. (2021) in their examination of the achievement gap
paradigm, cultural racism is evident in the advantage given to White children, from centering
their competencies, cultural values, and their funds of knowledge to showing them as the
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standard of achievement. In contrast, Black children and other children of color’s funds of
knowledge, cultural heritage, and competencies are ignored. White children are further
advantaged by being likely to be taught by a teacher who shares their racial and cultural
background compared to Black children and other children of color. Teacher-child racial-ethnic
match has been linked to a close and positive relationship between child and teacher and positive
academic and social outcomes for children (Redding, 2019)
Systemic racism (interchangeable with structural and institutional racism) creates and
maintains advantages (and disadvantages) through rooted and interconnected policies, practices,
and norms. For example, due to long-standing housing discrimination, Black children are likely
to live in high poverty communities where they are likely to be exposed to violence, toxins, low-
quality education (including early learning programs), unsafe and unhealthy housing, poor health
care facilities, and poverty (Jargowsky, 2015), while also being subjected to police violence, and
adequate political representation, among other policies and practices that directly and indirectly
impact children’s healthy development. Similarly, Native American children are likely to live in
isolated and low-income communities that reduce their access to healthy food, health care,
education, and connection to their land, language, and cultural traditions, which has a devastating
consequence on their health and life outcomes (Ahmed et al., 2007). Other ways children of
color are adversely impacted by systemic racism include (a) mass incarceration, which are
experienced disproportionality by Black and Latine people have been linked with economic,
social, and emotional challenges for children (Outland et al., 2020; Wildeman et al., 2018); (b)
Black, Native American and Latine people are more likely to be unemployed and underemployed
compared to their White peers, leading to limited economic resources and emotional stress of the
caregivers which has been linked to children’s learning and wellbeing (Iruka et al., 2012); (c)
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ample evidence exists about young Black and Latine children likely to go to high poverty and
segregated schools compared to their White peers, which is likely to expose them to low quality
resources, non-credentialed teacher, and unsafe and unhealthy learning environments which are
linked to poor academic and social outcomes (Greenberg & Monarrez, 2019); (e) while many
racial and ethnic groups are harmed by inequitable immigration policy, Latine communities, in
particular, are disproportionately harmed by these policies which have been found to adversely
affect the wellbeing of Latine children and youth through stress due to structural racism,
inequitable access to social support (including education), health care and related services, and
material resources (e.g., food, housing) (Ayón & Philbin, 2017; Philbin et al., 2018).
Interpersonal racism is behaviors and interactions that result in discrimination that
preserves racial power differentials, as seen with the police killing of Black people, which
evidence indicates is harmful to the emotional health and sense of safety of Black children and
youth (Outland et al., 2020). The experiences between the health care professionals and families
and children of color also leave an indelible mark on their development and learning. For
example, Black children are less likely to be identified and provided access to early intervention
services and programs, such as autism spectrum disorder (Boyd et al., 2018). McManus et al.
(2020) found that Black children were less likely than their White counterparts to be referred to
early intervention. Providers tended to dismiss parental developmental concerns and abnormal
developmental screening results and attribute them to social (e.g., poverty) rather than clinical
risk for Black families compared to White families. Racial bias is also found in the quality of
early intervention services Black and Latine children are likely to receive, leading to poorer
progress (Khetani et al., 2017). These discriminatory practices and biased experiences are also
seen in other sectors, including ECE (e.g., suspension and expulsion), child welfare (Dettlaff et
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al., 2011; Miller et al., 2013), and health care for children (Flores, 2010), which all harm
children’s healthy development and learning.
Vicarious Racism is the indirect experience of racism. Scholars have postulated the
pathways that vicarious experiences may impact children’s development (Bécares et al., 2015;
Chae et al., 2021). One pathway is through maternal mental health, with evidence showing that
parents who are more depressed less likely to engage in sensitive and language-rich interactions
with their children. Another way is through parenting, with parents experiencing discrimination
being stressed and engaging in more harsh and punitive parenting. In their systematic review,
Heard-Garris et al. (2018) found vicarious racism linked to various child outcomes, especially
externalizing and internalizing behaviors and socioemotional difficulties. Nevertheless, there
were several null findings linking vicarious racism to child health, meriting further attention,
especially regarding measurement, informant, timing, frequency, and impact on young children’s
engagement and achievement.
Internalized racism is the feeling of inadequacy, which, arguably, starts early in life due
to the sustained assault and stereotypic imagery about one’s own group perpetuated by a White
dominant culture that creates self-doubt, identity confusion, and feelings of inferiority(David
et al., 2019, p. 1060). Internalized racism was exemplified in the Clark and Clark (1947) classic
doll test, which found that Black and White children connected the White doll with more
favorable characteristics than the Black doll. Subsequently, scholars began to examine when and
how children form their racial identity and the processes that lead to positive (and negative)
racial identity (see review by Iruka et al., 2021). In their systematic review of internalized
racism, David and colleagues (2019) found it negatively related to racial/ethnic identity and,
though mixed, career aspirations, valuing of education, academic self-concept, and grades and
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positively related to assimilation. There were also findings linking internalized racism to
depression and obesity. These studies are incredibly nascent for young children, calling for more
research that focuses on that age group and the experiences of different racial and ethnic groups.
Family and Community Assets
In the R3ISE integrative model, we call for attention to the cultural assets of families and
their children, which are adapted from Yosso’s (2005) community cultural wealth framework.
Cultural assets help Black, Indigenous, Latine, Asian, and other communities of color to navigate
through the various forms of racism. Aspirational capital refers to one’s ability to maintain
hopes and dreams for the future, “even in the face of real and perceived barriers.” Linguistic
capital refers to various communication (storytelling, visual art, music, poetry, etc.) and
language skills, and the intellectual and oral traditions of people of color. Familial capital refers
to the personal, family, and communal relationships and resources accessed via broad kinship
and community networks. Social capital refers to people and other resources that can be
accessed to support educational or professional access, growth, advancement, and emotional
support. Navigational capital refers to skills and abilities that can be used to maneuver through
environments that are unsupportive, hostile, or in opposition to people of color. Resistant capital
refers to the knowledge and skills used to seek social justice and equal rights and challenge
inequality and oppression. Perseverant capital is the skill to cope with obstacles and adversities
that get in the way of a goal. Spiritual capital is the personal faith and belief and the communal
worship experience and resources one relies on during challenging times. Some of these assets
were captured by Robert Hill (1972) in his book about the strengths of Black families, which
included strong kinship bond (i.e., familial capital), strong work orientation (i.e., perseverant
capital), adaptability of family roles (i.e., navigational capital), high achievement orientation
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(i.e., aspirational capital), and religious orientation (i.e., spiritual capital). Limited studies have
been done on the cultural assets of REM, calling for a resurgence in attending to these
competencies to further programs and policies that leverage these skills (Cabrera and The SRCD
Ethnic and Racial Issues Committee, 2013).
Role of Developmental Science to Identify Racism-Mitigating Policies in the Early Years
The R3ISE integrative model highlights the importance of developmental science in
identifying policies that mitigate racism and its consequences on young children and families.
Malawa and colleagues (2021) presented a solutions-centered public health intervention
framework, referred to as Racism as a Root Cause (RRC), that addresses children’s health and
well-being. The RRC framework posits that efforts and resources should be targeted toward a
specific racial group to maximize the impact for those groups that need help the most: Black and
Indigenous populations who have suffered centuries of brutality, genocide, slavery, oppression,
and dehumanization (Malawa et al., 2021, p. 2).
With the RRC in mind, we call for developmental science to use the R3ISE integrated
model to examine policies that address how best to protect, promote, and preserve the
developmental potential of REM children and their families (Iruka, Harper, et al., 2021).
Essentially, policies that have the potential to disrupt experiences of multilevel racism and its
harmful effects (Iruka, Harper, et al., 2021, p. 4) while also attending to the cultural assets of
the family are likely key levers in promoting children’s optimal development. While no one
policy can undo the historical legacy of racism, it is the amalgamation of policies that will undo
the harmful effects of structural and systemic injustices. As such, the policies mentioned below
are not intended to be exhaustive but rather highlight key areas essential to promoting REM
children’s positive development: (1) Economic Security and Mobility, (2) Fostering Safe
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Neighborhoods, (3) Prenatal and Child Health, and (4) Access to Quality Affordable Early
Education. Attending to these critical areas has the potential to address racial inequality,
especially anti-Black racism, and advance equity in the early years.
Economic Security and Mobility
REM children and families are disproportionately more likely to experience poverty and
economic insecurity than their White counterparts (Maroto et al., 2019). Research shows that
children who experience poverty are more likely to be exposed to less-than-optimal conditions
such as low-quality early education, inadequate nutrition, and higher stressed environments
(Engle et al., 2007; Ryan et al., 2014). Policies that address poverty, income inequalities, and
promote economic security and wealth generation are essential in generating more equitable
outcomes for REM populations. Such policies should focus on tax credits, income supports,
racial wage equity, baby bonds, investment in Black- and Brown-owned and led entities, and
Expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC)
under the Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2019 are expected to benefit 35 million
households through EITC and lift roughly 10 million families out of poverty through CTC (Marr
et al., 2019). The U.S. Census showed that after two rounds of CTC, Black childhood poverty
rates reduced by 6.8 percent, from 23.7% to 16.9%, totaling 756,000 Black children lifted out of
poverty by stimulus payments (Burns et al., 2021). Similarly, the child poverty rate was reduced
by 6.8 percent for Hispanics, representing 1.3 million Hispanic children. In addition, the CTC
lifted 1 million White children and 153,000 Asian children out of poverty. Emerging research
supports the relationship between poverty alleviating programs like EITC and CTC and their
relation to improved health and educational child outcomes (NASEM, 2019).
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Income supports, investment in Black- and Brown-owned and led entities, and attending
to the racial wage disparities are key levers in promoting economic security and mobility for
Black families. The links between race, income inequalities, and economic security and mobility
date back to the enslavement period when Black people were forced to provide free labor. This
inhumane treatment became the fabric of American society and continues to shape current wage
disparities. Black people earn less than their White counterparts across every level of education
and profession (Iruka, James, et al., 2021; Semega, 2017). Policies that prohibit employers from
pay secrecy and require the reporting of racial wage data are needed to ensure accountability and
equity. The expansion of programs like the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
that promote self-sufficiency through income supports to families of lower-income and The
Raise the Wage Act of 2021, which would gradually raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25
to $15 by 2025, are essential policies that have the potential also to address racial pay inequities
(Iruka, James, et al., 2021).
Fostering Safe and Stable Homes and Neighborhoods
Safe and stable housing is essential for children’s healthy development. However, racist
housing policies (e.g., redlining, zoning, segregation, predatory lending, underinvestment, and
gentrification) and racialized exclusions in public policies such as the New Deal and the G.I. Bill
have produced racial disparities. These disparities are evident in the undervaluation of Black
neighborhoods and homeowners. REM households are likely to be low-income renters, have
housing cost-burden, have high rates of eviction, live in low-quality and overcrowded housing,
and have high rates of homelessness, especially among Black people (Butler et al., 2020).
Organizations such as the National League of Cities (Butler et al., 2020) and Urban
Institute (Scally et al., 2020) call for specific policies that address the needs of households,
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especially those with young children. Some of these policies include: (a) conducting a racial
impact study to examine racial disparities in housing and land-use policies; (b) mitigating
displacement due to gentrification by instituting race-specific policies such as the ancestral
clause that gives top priority to those whose families lived in gentrified neighborhoods; (c)
keeping renters and homeowners housed while targeting those with the greatest need through
unemployment benefit boosts, rental assistance, and mortgage forbearance and refinancing; (d)
funding comprehensive eviction diversion programs that can assist both renters and landlords; (e)
implementing inclusionary housing policies that maintain an affordable supply of housing; and
(f) supporting and funding shared equity homeownership such as community land trusts that
make a home affordable for a lower-income family. As noted by Iruka, Durden, and colleagues
(2021), equitable housing policies such as Housing Choice Voucher Program (i.e., Section 8)
help more than 5 million low-income families access affordable rental housing that meets health
and safety standards which are associated with many child outcomes including improved
nutrition due to greater food security, reductions in poverty and homelessness, and protection
from unsafe communities.
Prenatal and Child Health
The well-being of a mother during the prenatal stages of development directly affects the
future developmental outcomes of their child (Crnic et al., 2005; Keating et al., 2020).
Strengthening access to programs like Medicaid, Women Infants, and Children (WIC), and the
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) that disproportionately serve REM families is
essential because they provide access to services for women during the perinatal period,
continued health coverage for children as they develop, and access to nutritional foods during
and after pregnancy. Expansion of such programs has been noted to increase access and use of
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healthcare, improve health outcomes, and reduce racial disparities (Guth et al., 2020; Iruka,
Oliva-Olson, et al., 2021; Ortega & Roby, 2021). Additionally, the Maternal, Infant, and Early
Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) and Group Prenatal Care (GPC) programs are promising
strategies for incorporating targeted services to meet the needs of Black families. Both programs
are designed to support the healthy pregnancy practices of women at greater risk of adverse
maternal and child health outcomes. While the effects of the programs on reducing racial
disparities are debatable, the foundational structure of how the programs were developed
provides an avenue to offer culturally centered education and supportive environments that
promote healthy pregnancy and birth outcomes (Iruka, Oliva-Olson, et al., 2021; Lewy, 2021;
Schmit, 2014). Coupling healthcare access with culturally centered prenatal care is key to
addressing the racial disparities in adverse birth outcomes (Hardeman et al., 2020).
Access to Quality Early intervention and Education
Access to quality early childhood and intervention programs and services supports school
readiness skills and academic attainment over time, but access to these opportunities is scarce for
REM families (Barnett et al., 2013; Iruka, Durden, et al., 2021). The lack of financial resources
and geographic proximity to early learning opportunities cultivated by systemic and structural
racism places REM children and families at greater risk of experiencing limited access to
affordable, quality, and accessible early learning opportunities and services (Meek et al., 2020).
Policies that address systemic barriers like the cost, quality of care, and accessibility of care, are
key in advancing racial equity in early learning outcomes.
Adopting legislation to implement tuition-free universal pre-kindergarten (Pre-K),
increasing the distribution and amount of child care subsidies to match the need and cost of
quality care, and expanding Early Head Start and Head Start opportunities are essential in
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alleviating the cost of child care. These policy strategies widen the reach of affordable early care
options, increase family income, and increase enrollment in early care and education (Iruka,
Oliva-Olson, et al., 2021; Meek et al., 2020; NASEM, 2019).
While several factors contribute to the continuity of quality early learning experiences for
all children (i.e., teacher turnover), for Black and Native American children, harsh and unfair
disciplinary practices and lack of cohesion between their lived experiences and classroom
curricula are particularly important. Educator perceptions and expectations of students are often
lower for Black children, which leads to harsher disciplinary responses (Gilliam et al., 2016;
Goff et al., 2014; Okonofua & Eberhardt, 2015). These responses (i.e., higher expulsion and
suspension rates) disrupt children’s learning which is essential to quality early learning
experiences because it directly affects children’s ability to actively engage. Policymakers should
consider advocating and implementing policies that prevent suspension and expulsion during
these critical years of development while instituting policies that require the collection of
meaningful data about the use of harsh punishment in schools (Meek et al., 2020).
In addition to expanding access to these programs, program leaders must center and
integrate the cultural assets of REM communities. Curriculum and pedagogy that promote Black
excellence through leveraging children’s cultural and linguistic assets, while building on prior
knowledge, is a vital part of creating psychologically safe spaces (Iruka, James, et al., 2021, p.
19). Allocating funding to support the development and training of culturally responsive
educators is essential because it validates the lived experience of Black and Indigenous, Latine,
and other REM children and engages them in the curricula as active contributors, which is
known to have lasting effects on children’s learning over time (Bassey, 2016).
Racism and Child Development
Racism and its various forms (i.e., structural, interpersonal, vicarious) have led to
detrimental impacts on the wellbeing and developmental outcomes of REM children and
families. Developmental science demonstrates that racism’s impact impinges on every aspect of
children’s health and well-being, including at the neurobiological, academic, social,
psychological, and environmental levels. In this paper, we draw attention to disparities that
existbefore and after birthin education, affordable housing, healthcare, ECE, and other
areas. The costs of not intervening with effective public policies that are anti-racist threaten the
well-being of REM children and families and the U.S. society as a whole. Policies that mitigate
the destructive effects of racism must be rooted in what developmental science shows children
and families need to flourish and thrive.
Luckily, there are ways to mitigate the effects of racism on REM children’s outcomes,
and these include informing and improving policies that focus on economic security and
mobility, safe and affordable housing, prenatal care and child health, and access to early
intervention and quality education. We implore researchers, educators, and policymakers to use
the R3ISE integrative model to continue examining ways to improve and protect the wellbeing of
REM children and work collaboratively to advance racial equity and dismantle systems that have
prevented the full participation of REM children and their families in society.
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We use the term Black as a pan-ethnic description of anyone from the African diaspora including but not
exclusively limited to, African Americans, Africans, Afro-Caribbeans, Afro-Latino/a, or any other group that
identifies as black and/or having any ancestral heritage from Africa. In some instances, we use the term African
American if used by a particular study or report.
Consistent with experts in the field, we use Latine to refer to individuals whose cultural background originated in
Latin America. Rather than using Latinx, a term Spanish speakers find unpronounceable in Spanish, we have opted
to use the gender-inclusive term Latine, commonly used throughout Spanish-speaking Latin American (Melzi et al.,
2020). In some instances, we use the term Hispanic if used by a particular study or report, such as the U.S. Census
While we use the term Native American as denoted in the US Census and as used in the research studies we cite,
we recognize the term is embedded in ethnic nomenclature, racial attitudes, the legal and political status of
American Indian nations and American Indian people, and cultural change (Horse, 2005). We recognize that Native
Americans and Tribal Communities are Indigenous people, making it clear that this group occupied the land first,
without assigning the American nationality. In this paper, we use Native American interchangeably with Indigenous.
... Although many children from impoverished backgrounds may be resilient and have positive functioning despite the adversities they experience (Luthar et al. 2000, Masten et al. 1990), in general, socioeconomic disparities exist and may be particularly pronounced for children of color, who are more likely to experience poverty compounded by the vestiges of historical and systemic racism (see Iruka et al. 2022). Disparities in children's outcomes are evident across developmental areas, including the development of the brain (Hanson et al. 2015, Noble et al. 2015, Troller-Renfree et al. 2022. ...
... Furthermore, current victimization (e.g., IPV) may directly affect the growing fetus through violent injury (Chambliss 2008 Despite the robust evidence base on infant mortality and morbidity due to poverty, the research regarding racial and ethnic differences in infant mortality and morbidity supports a much more complex explanation than just their increased risk due to SES. For example, the infants of African American women have higher rates of mortality and morbidity than their white counterparts, regardless of SES (see Iruka et al. 2022). Further, the infants of women who are poor and have immigrated to the United States tend to have lower rates of mortality and morbidity than the infants of African American women who are poor (Grimm & Cornish 2018). ...
Given the high rates of child poverty in the United States, socioeconomic disparities exist regarding children's physical and mental health. These disparities are particularly pronounced for children of color, who are more likely to experience poverty compounded by the vestiges of historical and systemic racism. Physical health disparities include higher rates of mortality, growth impairments, allergies, respiratory difficulties, tooth decay, and injuries. Disparities have also been found in the mental health arena, including a higher likelihood of internalizing and externalizing disorders, as well as trauma symptoms, and differences in the timing of diagnosis of, types of, and treatments for mental health disorders. Familial, neighborhood, service, and systemic contextual factors further solidify these disparities. It is critical to address the structural causes of these disparities and their consequences to promote more positive outcomes in affected children. A system of care that integrates economic programs, child care and education supports, parenting interventions, and appropriate physical and mental health care is essential to meet the health needs of children from impoverished backgrounds. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Developmental Psychology, Volume 4 is December 2022. Please see for revised estimates.
Vicarious exposure to discrimination can result in multiple negative outcomes in youth. In this article, we offer a conceptual model that articulates the intersecting contextual factors and potential moderators for U.S. Latine youth's exposure to family‐level vicarious racism, and explore how that affects youth and family responses. We define and describe youth's exposure to family‐level vicarious racism, considering the ramifications of these experiences through family processes and cultural values. We conclude by arguing that research on discrimination and racism in Latine families needs to account for family‐level processes.
The current study examined whether within-family changes in child care quality and quantity predicted subsequent changes in home environment quality and maternal depression across early childhood (6 to 54 months of age). Data were drawn from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (n = 1239; 77% White; 48% female; data collection from 1991 to 1996), and were analyzed using Random Intercept Cross-Lagged Panel Models. Within-family increases in child care quality predicted modest increases in home environment quality (β = .13-.17). These effects were most robust from child age 6 to 15 months. Increases in child care quality produced small, statistically non-significant, reductions in depression. Time-specific increases in child care quantity were not consistently predictive of either outcome.
Full-text available
Racial and ethnic inequities in the US health care system have been unremitting since the beginning of the country. In the 19th and 20th centuries, segregated black hospitals were emblematic of separate but unequal health care.¹ Racism resulted in hospitals refusing to desegregate despite the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 until they were forced to under threat of losing federal funds from the newly enacted Medicaid and Medicare programs in 1966.² For American Indian and Alaska Native persons, health care has always been and remains to be segregated.³,4 Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted long-standing, persistent inequities, with American Indian, Black, Latino, and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities being at high risk of morbidity and mortality.
Full-text available
Wealth inequality is at a historic high in the United States. Yet little is known about the implications of wealth on children’s development because research has focused mainly on the role of wealth in shaping outcomes in adulthood. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (N = 8,095), we examine how family wealth relates to achievement and behavior problems during early childhood, middle childhood, and adolescence. Further, we explore whether links between wealth and children’s development vary by level of income and income volatility. Results show that wealth, controlling for income level and volatility, is uniquely related to both academic and behavioral development in early childhood, middle childhood, and adolescence. Moreover, evidence suggests that wealth plays a buffering role when it comes to protecting children’s development from the deleterious effects of low family income, especially as children grow older.
Objectives-This report presents 2019 infant mortality statistics by age at death, maternal race and Hispanic origin, maternal age, gestational age, leading causes of death, and maternal state of residence. Trends in infant mortality are also examined.
For over 50 years, the pediatric research community has embraced social-ecological models that call attention to the entire ecological system in which child development occurs¹; yet, researchers rarely apply this model to the study of racism and child health. To date, most research on racism and health has focused on interpersonal experiences of racism, rather than systems or institutions.² Structural racism refers to interrelated and mutually reinforcing systems and institutions that confer preferential access to societal goods, services, opportunities, rights, and hegemonic power to White people while denying access to people from minoritized racial and ethnic groups, stemming from laws and systems rooted in white supremacy.²,3 To confront the origins of racial disparities in health, we need robust evidence that informs efforts to address the burden of structural racism and cultivate environments to support optimal development for children and parents alike. In this Viewpoint, we present a model of child development that implicates structural racism as foundational in the emergence of racial health disparities across the life course. We contend that this reframing is necessary to effectively intervene on health disparities and offer recommendations to advance research and progress toward health equity.
For Black American youth and their families, the racial terror that claimed the life of George Floyd in May 2020 is nothing new, as stories of people who look just like them have been part and parcel of their lived experience in the United States. Beyond state-sanctioned murder, Black youth were also witnessing the disproportionate transmission, treatment, and travesty plaguing their community with COVID-19 – all predictable outcomes given the inequitable systems supporting the American pipeline from cradle to grave. Why, then, were so many White Americans just coming into awareness of this deadly disease of individual and systemic racism that has ravaged Black American communities for centuries? In this work, we seek to explain in what ways racism is tantamount to a social virus and how its permeation is endemic to the American body, rather than an emerging threat, like a pandemic. We will also address how better conceptualizing racism as a virus allows for more accurate, precise, and feasible treatments for transmitters and targets of racism with respect to prevention (e.g., inoculation) and intervention (e.g., healing and vaccination). Finally, we will describe clinical therapeutic trials that will help to decipher whether our treatment of this social disease is effective, including family-level interventions and systemic shifts in prevention through clinical training.
Central to attachment theory is the idea that behavior in close relationships can best be understood in context. Although decades of research have illuminated cross-cultural patterns of caregiving and attachment, there remains a critical need to increase research with African American families, examine the specific sociocultural context of systemic anti-Black racism, and integrate the rich theory and research of Black scholars. The goal of this special issue is to bring together attachment researchers and scholars studying Black youth and families to leverage and extend attachment-related work to advance anti-racist perspectives in developmental science. The papers in this special issue, highlighted in the introduction, illuminate pathways of risk and resilience in Black children, adolescents, and families and point to the protective power of relationships (and the limits of such protection) for mental and physical health. We highlight critical questions to guide ongoing dialogue and collaboration on this important topic.
The first 1,000 days is one of the most consequential times for children’s development. As a hugely ignored adversity embedded in all aspects of black children’s lives before birth and throughout their life course, racism in all forms deserves more attention in the developmental science literature. Racism—including structural, institutional, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and cultural—negatively impacts the health, learning, and well-being of black children, their families, and their communities. Using the Integrative Model for the Study of Developmental Competencies for Minority Children and Critical Race Theory frameworks, this article elucidates how racial disparities in every opportunity and outcome connected to black children and their ecosystem are due to white supremacy and anti-black racism. We call for urgent action focused on preservation, protection, and promotion to address white supremacy and combat anti-black racism through racial equity and culturally grounded science and policymaking.
More than half a century of educational efforts have focused on eliminating the Black–White achievement gap. Yet, racial disparities persist. In this article, we describe the issues with educational discourse focused on the achievement gap and the ways structural racism drives the educational experiences and outcomes of Black students. We include a discussion of Black children’s developmental competencies and the ways educators may use culturally relevant pedagogy to capitalize upon these competencies and support higher achievement among Black students. We conclude with suggestions for specific actions to foster systemic change for Black students.
Adultification, perceiving a child as older and more mature, and anger bias, perceiving anger where it does not exist, are two phenomena disproportionally imposed on Black children compared to White children. The current study assessed whether perceiving a Black child as older increases the odds of mistakenly perceiving anger. Participating were 152 parents who viewed video representations of 40 children in an emotion understanding paradigm. Black children were not seen as older than White children but they did have 1.27 higher odds of being misperceived as angry (p < .05). Additionally, for each year increase in perceived age, the odds of anger bias increased by 1.04 for the Black children (p < .05), but did not increase for White children. Implications of this finding include Black children receiving increased consequences when adults perceive them as older and angry.
New York City’s universal prekindergarten (pre-K) program, which increased full-day enrollment from 19,000 to almost 70,000 children, is ambitious in both scale and implementation speed. We provide new evidence on the distribution of pre-K quality in New York City by student race/ethnicity, and investigate the extent to which observed differences are associated with the spatial distribution of higher quality providers. Relative to other jurisdictions, we find the average quality of public pre-K providers is high. However, we identify large disparities in the average quality of providers experienced by Black and White students, which is partially explained by differential proximity to higher quality providers. Taken together, current racial disparities in the quality of pre-K providers may limit the program’s ability to reduce racial achievement gaps.