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Cultural Identity Development

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1 Cultural Identity Development
Chapter 7

2 Introduction At some point in life, all Human Beings must confront the question, “Who am I” Erik Erikson (1950/1963) stated that the development of an identity is one of the major developmental tasks Although every individual must resolve conflicts with his or her own identity, individuals of cultural minority groups have a unique problem Those individuals of minority groups must also resolve conflicts having to do with their minority status (based on race, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, or some other trait that makes them different from the “main stream”

3 A Model of Personal Identity
Sue (2001) proposed a Tripartite Model of Personal Identity Illustrated as three concentric circles which describe the individual, group, and universal levels of personal Identity Individual: each person is unique in genetic makeup, personality, and personal experience (individual differences set us apart from other human beings and is integral in our Identity) Group: focuses on the basic similarities and differences among individuals (society divides us up into groups based on various demographic characteristics, therefore a part of our identities is based on our membership in these groups) Universal: there are characteristics that we share with all other human beings such as biological needs (food/water), physical similarities (anatomical similarities), common life experiences (birth/death), and common practices or behaviors (the use of language for communication)


5 African American Identity Development
Kenneth and Mamie Clark (1939) conducted an experiment with African American children in which they asked them to look at a white and black doll and describe each comparatively (prettiest, smartest, dirtiest) Found that African American children attributed more positive traits to the white dolls and more negative traits to the black dolls Kenneth and Mamie Clark argued that this demonstrated low self-esteem and negative self-image of black children and attributed this to racism and discrimination experienced by black children in white America Used as evidence in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case leading to the decision that segregated schools are unconstitutional

6 African American Identity Development
William Cross (1971) outlined the stages that African Americans go through in order to move from self-hatred to self-acceptance (this was the first Identity Development model) Pre-encounter: at this stage individuals are programmed to think of the world as non-Black or anti-Black (think or act in ways that devalue being African American and idealize being White) Encounter: at this stage individuals experience some significant or startling event that forces a reevaluation of their previous ideas about race (ex. The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) Immersion/emersion: at this stage a reversal occurs wherein people idealize blackness, totally surround themselves by “Black Culture”, and completely shut out everything that is not ‘Black’ Internalization: at this stage people feel positive and secure in about their “Black” identity but also exhibit increased comfort and acceptance of other cultures (no longer completely shut out other cultures)

7 African American Identity Development
Parham and Helms (1981) constructed the Racial Identity Attitude Scale (RIAS) to measure Cross’s stages The RAIS has been used to explore the relationship between racial identity and a wide variety of other variables, such as self esteem (Parham & Helms, 1985a), demographic factors (Parham & Williams, 1993), affective states (Parham & Helms, 1985b), and the counseling process (Helms, 1985) There are at least 11 other models for African Americans alone (Cross, Parham, & Helms, 1991; Helms 1990) as well as models specifically for Asian Americans (e.g., Kitano, 1982), Latinos (e.g., Ruiz, 1990), and European Americans (e.g., Helms, 1984, 1990, 1995b) as well as for gender (e.g., Kohlberg, 1966), and sexual orientation (e.g., Cass, 1979)

8 White Identity Development
Just like Minorities, those belonging to the dominant group also go through identity struggles specific to that group Janet Helms (1984, 1990, 1995b) assumes that racist attitudes are a central part of being European American and that the development of a healthy White identity requires the abandonment of racist ideas and the definition of oneself as nonracist Sited 6 “statuses” (stages) that European Americans go through in this process (uses the term “statuses” because an individual can be in multiple of these at the same time)

9 White Identity Development
Helms’ (1984, 1990, 1995b) 6 statuses Contact: individuals in this stage hold two opposing beliefs – that everything white is superior and everything minority inferior; and that racial and cultural differences don’t matter (“I’m color blind”, “We’re all the same under our skin”) Disintegration: increased experience with people of color leads to information that is incongruent with a person’s previously held notions This contradiction causes cognitive dissonance (working with an African American on a project and seeing them do well challenges the belief that they are unintelligent, and seeing that same individual passed over for promotions contradicts the idea of equal opportunities) Reintegration: whites resolve the conflict of disintegration by retreating to to the comfort and acceptance of their own racial group and, either passively or actively, supporting white superiority

10 White Identity Development
Helms’ (1984, 1990, 1995b) 6 statuses Pseudoindependence: whites begin to acknowledge some existence of racism but see the solution in changing Blacks, not Whites (may reach out to Blacks but by imposing White standards) Immersion/Emersion: Whites take time to explore their own culture, learning what it means to be White in a diverse society (no longer focus on changing Blacks but on changing Whites and understand that a central part of White ) Autonomy: whites feel good about their group but also find contact with individuals from other groups mutually enriching (expand their sensitivity beyond racism to include other forms of oppression, acknowledge their privilege, and act as allies who actively seek to combat discrimination)

11 Multiracial Identity Development
In 1967 the Supreme Court declared laws that prevented individuals of different races to be unconstitutional According to the US Census data, interracial marriages increased from 149,000 in 1960 to 1,461,000 in 1990 Surveys over the last 20 years has shown that Americans show increased approval of interracial marriages (Root, 1996, 2001) Individuals from multiracial backgrounds face a more complex identity process than do those from monoracial backgrounds (Kerwin & Ponterro, 1995)

12 Multiracial Identity Development
Individuals coming from two racial groups may face discrimination from both of those groups because they are not seen as full members of either one (Johnson, 1992; Sue & Sue, 2003) Because of this, multiracial individuals are sometimes pressured to identify with one group over the other Often times society’s reactions are based on the person’s appearance – which ever racial group the individual looks like Many parents now encourage their children to identify with both racial/ethnic groups (Smolow, 1993)

13 Multiracial Identity Development
Poston (1990) introduced a five-stage model of biracial identity development Personal Identity: the young child’s sense of self is independent of his or her racial group Identity is instead based primarily on personal factors, such as self-esteem , that develop within the context of family Choice of Group: the young person feels pressured to choose one identity or the other That pressure may come from family members, peers, physical appearance, or society (Hall, 1980, 1992) Enmeshment/denial: feelings of guilt and self-hatred arise from choosing one group over another

14 Multiracial Identity Development
Appreciation: this is the stage where a positive multiracial identity begins to emerge when the person begins to broaden his or her perspective and begins to explore the previously rejected side of his or her racial heritage Integration: in this stage the individual sees the benefits of embracing both identities

15 Multiracial Identity Development
Root (1990) agrees that multiracial individuals need to come to terms with both sides of their heritage but describes four possible resolutions to this process Accept the identity society assigns Identify with both racial groups Identify with a single racial group Identify with a new “mixed-race” group Identify with the race considered as the one with the lower-status culture in this country/higher-status culture in this country

16 Racial and Cultural Identity Development Model
First created by Atkinson, Morton & Sue (1979, 1989, 1998), who called it the Minority Identity Development Model (MID) MID was later revised by Sue and Sue (1990, 1999, 2003), who called it the Racial and Cultural Identity Development Model (R/CID) Each stage in the R/CID addresses how the individual feels about himself or herself, others of the same group, others of another minority group, and members of the majority or dominant group (Sue & Sue, 1003)

17 Racial and Cultural Identity Development Model
Stages of the R/CID Conformity: individuals show a strong preference for the values, beliefs, and features of the dominant culture over their own The individual has strong negative attitudes toward the self, his or her own group, and other minority groups (dominant groups are admired) Dissonance: at some point, the individual encounters information that contradicts his or her cultural values and beliefs This happens slowly through a gradual breakdown of denial as one questions his or her attitudes from the conformity stage (person is in conflict between positive and negative vies of the self)

18 Racial and Cultural Identity Development Model
Stages of the R/CID cont. Resistance and Immersion: in this stage the person completely embraces minority culture and rejects the dominant culture The person feels guilt or shame about previously being a “sellout” and contributing to the oppression of his or her group resulting in anger, distrust, and dislike for the dominant group Person is inspired to find out more about his or her own culture forming a stronger connection to his or her own group) Introspection: individual begins to let go of some of the intense feelings of anger toward the dominant culture and redirects that energy into greater understanding of himself or herself and his or her own group the person moves away from total immersion in his or her own group and toward greater autonomy

19 Racial and Cultural Identity Development Model
Stages of the R/CID cont. Integrative Awareness: the person achieves an inner sense of security and appreciates both the positive and negative aspects of both his or her own culture and the dominant culture There is a positive sense of group pride whilst still being able to question group values Person now reaches out to members of other minority groups to gain a greater understanding of their attitudes and experiences and expresses support for all oppressed people

20 A Critique of Stage Models
These types of models have made great contributions to the field of multicultural psychology and to our understanding of human behavior and our diverse society, they are not without limitations Most models present a linear progression through the stages, meaning that individuals start at the beginning then move to the final stage In reality these are much more fluid (a person may reach the final stage of internalization in Cross’s model, but might experience something jumps them back to the encounter or immersion-emersion stage) (Parham, 1989) Remember the reason why Helms (1995b) uses the term “statuses” instead of “stages”

21 A Critique of Stage Models
Not all minorities start their development through the stages at the same point or in the same order Depending on the environment in which a minority child is raised, that child could begin development in a stage that takes more pride in his or her group rather than idealizing Whiteness, and could experience negative events later in live setting them back to the pre-encounter, encounter, and/or immersion-emersion stages

22 A Critique of Stage Models
These models assume one definition of mental health (the final stage is the healthiest) In the final stage of most models the individual reaches out to other groups and adopts dominant group aspects into their identity, when in certain situations it could be more beneficial for the individual to completely immerse him or herself in his or her own culture It is important to be wary of the assumption that one identity outcome is the healthiest for all members in a particular group

23 Multiple Layering of Identities
Sometimes an individual will feel most strongly connected to one group but also feels that they are more than simply that group (e.g., a Latina Lesbian who most strongly associates with being Lesbian, but feels she is more than simply Lesbian) This individual must deal with being a homosexual individual, an ethnic minority, as well as being a woman

24 Multiple Layering of Identities
All individuals belong to more than one group, but one of those identities may be more important to us than the others Characteristics of the person as well as the situation interact to determine which identity is most salient at any given time (Sellers et al., 1998) Racial salience: the significance of one’s race varies across individuals and across situations Being the only African-American in a certain situation may make race salient to one individual, but have little to no effect on another individual of the same race in that same situation

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