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Theoretical Racial Development Essay

1499 words - 6 pages

In the relevant course, CRD 2, I was made aware of a few different theories of social identity development, particularly pertaining to race. As I began to examine these theories, I sought out similarities, something that would catch my eye and make me think, “That applies to me.” Beverly Tatum’s ideas caught with me most easily, and I will elaborate on them shortly, but for the most part, I had to struggle to find one that seemed synonymous with who I am and how I see myself. The closest likenesses I could find were for the most part milder versions of the theory’s anecdotes, and I found it unnecessary to make myself conform to a theory exactly. While the theories are excellent material for ...view middle of the document...

After trying to assess which one most applied to me, I decided that Beverly Tatum’s steps, especially the first ones, seemed to apply to me the most. Beverly Tatum’s Racial Identity Development has two different sections, one for people of color and one for Whites. Since I am Latino, I turned to the one concerning people of color. It was an interesting choice, considering that I had never considered myself a person of color, but merely a person, but it was still a necessary and truthful choice. For people of color, it contained five stages total, which are as follows: Pre-encounter, Encouter, Immersion/Emersion, Internalization, and Internalization/Commitment. Pre-encounter is the stage during which a person will simply try to fit into a society and environment dominated primarily by Whites. There is little imvolvement with the person’s racial group. Encounter is a moment of realization. In Encounter, a person might have something happen to them, or maybe recall something that previously happened to them, that makes them realize how substantial the effect of racism might be on their life. It brings their true racial identity forward into focus, and the person might start to make it a greater part of their routine. Immersion/Emersion is somewhat of a true embracing of the culture the person has now made themselves a part of. It is a time of a sense of pride and boldness and reveling within their racial culture. Internalization is the calm aftermath of Immersion/Emersion, in which a person might be less likely to push their culture to the forefront of conversations and can bond with Whites on a more serious level, as long as the respect of their culture and race is there. Alongside this, the person begins to recognize other marginalized peoples and bond with them on common ground. Internalization/Commitment is the full consummation of a person’s racial journey. Their racial identity becomes deeply rooted and becomes, as Tatum puts it, “a plan of action or general sense of commitment to the concerns of their own race as a group.” (Tatum) The last stage is also a launching stage, where openness to other ethos is at its maximum, and it becomes easy for the person to accept and appreciate other philosophies. All of these stages make for a reasonably specific and straightforward approach to a racial development, and it was fascinating to reflect on how my own life might fit into it.
Before approaching the topic of my development, it might be prudent to explain myself first. I am a male, and both of my parents are from Nicaragua, a small country in Central America. The neighborhood I grew up in was moderately varied as far as the races that lived there, and I was close friends with many of the kids around the block. It was a middle-class living, comfortable, but definitely not luxurious, and I most certainly cannot complain. My middle school was slightly more polarized, but overall, not much of a detriment, considering Whites were by far the...

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