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EMBRace, Engaging, Managing, and Bonding through Race

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While pedagogical theories are often focused on youth education, the current project focuses on strengthening the education of caregivers regarding their socialization methods of their adolescent children regarding race. EMBRace, or Engaging, Managing, and Bonding through Race, is a 4-session intervention designed to reduce racial stress and trauma for both parent and youth within the racial socialization process. As an example, and as evidenced by countless news articles published in the past several years, if a parent is talking to a child about a recent murder publicized by the media, the parent has to not only engage with the youth but also manage his own trauma about the racial incidents he has experienced either personally or vicariously. While the literature indicates that racial socialization is often utilized to protect the youth from racist experiences, very few studies address the desire for parents to protect their internalized pain throughout the process.

Thus, EMBRace is a novel strategy for reducing racial trauma for both youth andcaregivers and increasing family functioning via psychoeducational and therapeutic strategies. For each session, families will be introduced to scaffolded tasks in order to engage with racial content that matches the frequency with which they often talk about it naturally, that is, cultural socialization, preparation for bias, promotion of distrust, and racial silence/egalitarianism. Parents and adolescents will start each session by engaging in separate therapeutic sessions in order to voice their narrative about living as a Black person and the degree to which they have experienced stress with this identity. They will then join together for a family session that will focus on enhancing messages about racial pride, bias preparation, rationales behind promoting distrust, and why not engaging in racial socialization practices may be detrimental to youth. Findings will evaluate to what extent the EMBRace intervention changes racial socialization practices and competenceover the course of four weeks. With RECAST theory as a framework (Stevenson, 2014), we will evaluate whether the reduction of racial stress yields improved competence in racial socialization practices, leading to an improvement of racial and general coping and other psychological and academic outcomes.

The intervention is targeted at Philadelphia youth ages 10-14 and their caretakers. EMBRace will take place in our clinical laboratory with one-way mirrors and cameras in order to improve upon the delivery of therapeutic techniques to the families we serve.

Four major questions we aspire to answer from this project include:
  1. Can we improve parent delivery of racial socialization constructs through an intervention?
  2. Are there more comprehensive ways of measuring racial socialization that are competency-based?
  3. Are parents managing their own racial trauma while attending to their children’s needs? and
  4. Are there outcome constructs that have been overlooked in the current literature (e.g., racial assertiveness, racial self-esteem, etc.)?

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