White Racial Socialization: Exploring Factors that Influence White Student’s Perceptions of Race and Racism

 According to recent data research (Pew Research Center, 2019), the social and political climate of the United States represents an era when, arguably, there is a re-emergence of accepted and explicit interpersonal, institutional, and structural racism. This dynamic is a notable shift from the allegations of a “post-racial” United States following the election of the first Black President in 2008. If society is invested in the systematic dismantling of racism and movement towards racial equity, White-identified individuals must begin to promote self-awareness and engage in explicit discourse about race. Much of the discourse about racism and racial discrimination has focused on the consequences experienced by people of Color.  The current study sought to: a) Examine White college students’ knowledge and ideas about the topic of race; b) Explicate participants’ racial socialization experiences within the contexts that they have existed (e.g., school, work, family) and; c) Identify barriers to discussions focused on race among White-identified college-aged students. More specifically, the mixed-methods study investigated the following research questions: (1) What are the racial socialization experiences of White-identified college students?; (2) How do White students’ ideas about race inform their ability to engage in discussions about race?; and (3) How do White college students’ racial socialization experiences inform their racial identity development?