The Influence of Racialized Experiences on the Identities of Sudanese Refugee Youth Deborah J. Johnson, Baolin Qin, Andrew Saltarelli Michigan State University* * With Tom Luster, posthumously, the data and the larger study were under his express direction
Study Focus Early assessment of general resilience patterns and coping with race revealed the ability to “rise above”, focus on larger goals Prejudice and discrimination as a repetitive theme in the experience of the youth What would now be at the intersection of 7-9 yrs of adjustment, “becoming American”/identity, and race?
Rationale Discrimination is linked to racial identity For African Americans if race is a salient category of self/grp identity then discrimination more likely to be perceived (Sellers and Shelton, 2003) Meaning associated with how you think others view you is important to psychological distress. Ideology buffers distress (specific racial identity); Expectation of negative views of your group, less impact of discrimination
Rationale-Parental Racial Socialization Among families of American ethnic youth racialized experiences are anticipated Parents develop strategies to aid their youth negotiating the exigencies of racism while maintaining cultural authenticity and buffering their sense of self (Johnson, 2005;Quintana & McKown, 2008) Generational status is a factor in how the identities and self concepts of immigrant youth are affected (Qin et al, 2008;Hughes, et al, 2008)
Rationale- Unique group of youth Separated from biological parents/families, separated from homeland, transnationally transplanted, immigrant group of color/refugee status, Euro American foster parents*
Question Our central question focuses on whether the experiences of discrimination and coping processes would influence ethnic/racial identity development among Sudanese refugee youth Objectives Describe, identify linkages between constructs, confirm/challenge prevailing theory
Findings Context defines the boundaries experience Discrimination and prejudice Coping Identity Identity as an Outcome
Context defines the boundaries experience Schools (highschool, college) Jobs Communities
Discrimination and prejudice Youth do not actively distinguish between prejudice and discrimination but experiences both Some themes: skin color, prejudice in Black/white interactions, invalidation, acknowledge of prejudice did not experience, cultural discrimination, racial profiling, maltreatment
Discrimination and Prejudice – Skin Color “…living in America not easy for dark skin people like me..” “…sometimes they think that the darker you are, less likely to have money...”.
Discrimination and Prejudice – Skin Color you know, you’re different, you’re color is different, you know. … you know, they don’t see someone like that before, you know. ‘Cause we got African American here, but they don’t look like us, they kind of light skinned, you know, they different. Those are the culture thing we face, color, …, racial, you know
Acknowledge Prejudice but did not experience it “No I never had. I heard some people go through, but I never had any.” :….”some_____ kids they have a problem with some students,…but personally I haven’t had any problem with some of the students”.
Discrimination and Prejudice – Racial Profiling “…for some reason they[the police] just stop me, um, and they would say something like, “oh your driver license, we saw, it seemed like maybe your driver’s license plate expired” and it’s not, it’s not expired, but they just stop me….” “…living with being dark in this country is not fun sometimes. … anything [can] happen, either you’re gonna be first suspect, …it does not matter what it is.”
Coping Use of Lazarus & Folkman (1984) Identify themes, themes fit into appraisal, problem-, and emotion- focused coping Most youth seemed to cross categories when discussing their coping with described events Emotion-focused coping was prevalent Atypical of male population
Coping (Appraisal-focused) “there will be good people and bad people, no matter where you go” …You can be like, alright, maybe I’m even mad now, it’s not good because this is gonna go on my record, I don’t want to mess up my record…”
Coping (emotion focused) Anger, frustration “Being teased and called bad names by peers ‘my eyes just went blue’ Use of sports Use of substances
Identity Always Sudanese Sudanese American Bicultural Belongingness Outsider Keeping Culture/Losing Culture Not Authentic Anymore/Americanized
Identity- Always Sudanese & Sudanese-American Always Sudanese “I am Sudanese, you know, I’m always Sudanese” “…still Sudan is my true home” Sudanese American “…well I consider myself American, and I live here, I am an American citizen” “I wear baggy jeans sometime, I wear all gangster hat, people think I’m too gangster sometime…”
Identity- Outsider I’m just cry myself sometime, …if I was in my community where by people know that my good son and I do anything bad or anything people will still recognize that’s my good son. But here, I feel like I’m nobody, you know… “I will still feel a little bit outsider”…“my heart is kind of like hanging there…
Identity- Belongingness “I feel I belong here. But I feel that I belong to my country Sudan. I don’t feel that I belong here“ I mean, belong here. I’m doing things that Americans are doing here I certainly sometimes believe I belong here, but a lot of people they don’t believe you belong here” I find myself fitting more now in the culture than I did when first came, everybody pretty much knows me…it’s a good feeling. Like to see all these people that have love for you…
Identity as an Outcome Method: Looking within individuals, case studies Imperfect, but some good insights Discrimination experiences not shaping Sudanese identity OR Sudanese American More influences of discrimination and coping on other aspects of identity, belongingness and outsider Immigrant processes?
Conclusions Depth of study of racialized experiences of immigrant youth is a contribution Coping with race Exploration of multiple identities and the co-existence of multiple identities within you Literature may be behind the experiences presented here for immigrant youth
Conclusions, Emergent Theory Relations between discrimination experiences and identity do not map onto the experience Sudanese youth’s identity development Some aspects of can be influenced, in this case belongingness and outsider Neither model fully explained the experience of Sudanese youth