Black girls who are proud of their racial identity perform better academically than those with low self-esteem about their blackness a new study from Washington University in St. Louis found, The Source reported.
“Persons of color who have unhealthy racial identity beliefs tend to perform lower in school and have more symptoms of depression. There is a link between education and health-related outcomes. The next step is to examine how these contexts contribute to risky behavior taking in Black girls,” said Sheretta Butler-Barnes, assistant professor in social work at Washington University and lead author of the study.
Having a positive racial identity protects girls in hostile or negative school environments. However, when coupled with positive perceptions of the school climate, positive racial self-esteem was associated with greater academic motivation. To achieve those results, it’s critical to begin building the right attitude about being Black by adolescence, which will serve girls well into their adulthood.
“In our study, we found that feeling positive about being Black, and feeling support and belonging at school may be especially important for African-American girls’ classroom engagement and curiosity,” Butler-Barnes added. “Given the ways in which private regard buffered against the negative effects of a lower sense of belonging, feeling connected to the school may also work together with racial identity attitudes to improve academic outcomes.” The study was based on surveys of 733 adolescent Black girls recruited from a longitudinal study when they were ages 12-16.
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