Methods: The current study is part of a larger study, Maryland Adolescent Development in Context Study (MADICS), conducted by Eccles, Sameroff, and colleagues. MADICS is a community-based longitudinal dataset capturing the influence of context on adolescent behavior and development, including a racial, ethnic and socioeconomically diverse sample (1,482 adolescents and their families) from Prince George County in Washington D.C. A large proportion of African American families, 61% and European Americans, 35% were included in the sample. For this study, we use Wave 4 which was collected during the adolescent’s 11th grade year. Our sample includes a socioeconomically diverse sample of African American adolescents (N = 623, Mage = 16).
Measures: Mediation analyses were conducted for this study. We tested the effect of teacher racial discrimination and racialized educational beliefs, as mediated by efficacy to combat racism. The first step in our model includes teacher racial discrimination, focusing on African American adolescent encounters with teachers. We include efficacy to combat racism, focusing on African American adolescents’ beliefs of being efficacious in combatting teacher racial discrimination. The outcome variable, racialized educational beliefs, captures beliefs around how hard African American adolescents believe they have to work in school because of their race. Gender differences were also explored.
Results: Findings reveal that teacher racial discrimination had a direct effect on racialized educational beliefs. This indicates that African American adolescents who experience racial discrimination, also endorse higher beliefs that they would have to put forth more effort in school because of their race. Furthermore, mediation results highlight gender differences. Efficacious beliefs to combat racial discrimination serve as a mediator for African American adolescent boys but not for African American girls.
Conclusions and Implications: Our study illuminates the importance of examining racially discriminatory experiences and the internal assets of African American adolescents. Thus, social work practitioners should focus on decreasing racial inequality by implementing race- and gender-based interventions that, support positive student-teacher relationships and promote African American adolescents’ agency to combat racism in school. More research is needed to improve our understanding of African American girls’ efficacy to combat racism.