SUMMARY OF RACIAL AND ETHNIC IDENTITY FRAMEWORKS OR MODELSA number of researchers have explored the development of racial and ethnic identity. Belowwe have summarized the key concepts from the following frameworks or models: Perspective on American Indian Identity Development (Perry G. Horse, 2005) Asian American Identity Development Model (Jean Kim, 1981, 2001) Black American Racial Identity (William Cross, 1971, 1991, 2001) Latino Identity Orientations (Bernardo Ferdman and Plácida I. Gallegos, 2001) White Racial Identity Development Model (Janet Helms, 1995) Biracial Identity Development (W.S. Carlos Poston, 1990)It is important to keep in mind that: Not every person will necessarily go through every stage in a framework or model. The context of an individual’s life will affect their racial and ethnic identity development.A student’s family and community serve as the significant ethnic and racial groupmodels. As Kim (2001) explains, depending on the amount of ethnic expression in thehousehold and/or community, positive or neutral attitudes and identities may beformed. For the stage models, the authors who developed them acknowledge that the stagesmight be cyclical, that people might revisit different stages at different points in theirlives, and that some people may skip stages. Some of the frameworks are not stage models of development. Instead these modelsprovide lenses or orientations through which to view racial and ethnic identities. The frameworks summarized here describe people who are situated in many differentways, but they do not describe all of the possibilities.We believe the frameworks and models can serve as tools for self-reflection, for buildingempathy and understanding of students who are situated differently from yourself, and fortransforming your classroom or library into settings that support the positive racial identity ofyouth of color and Native youth.
Perspective on American Indian Identity Development (PerryG. Horse, 2005) – Perry G. Horse proposes five influences that affectNative American “consciousness” which can provide a framework forunderstanding the development of Native American students. Note:Horse does not refer to this idea as an identity model. This is not alinear stage model that youth will progress through in order.1.“the extent to which one is grounded in one’s NativeAmerican language and culture, one’s cultural identity”2. “the validity of one’s American Indian genealogy”3. “the extent to which one holds a traditional American Indiangeneral philosophy or worldview (emphasizing balance andharmony and drawing on Indian spirituality)”4.“one’s self-concept as an American Indian”5. “one’s enrollment (or lack of it) in a tribe” (p. 65).Perry G. Horse (Kiowa)serves as a leadershipcoach in thecommunity collegenational reformmovement known asAchieving the Dream.Asian American Identity Development Model (Jean Kim, 1981,2001) – This framework identifies a continuum that leads AsianAmericans to form a positive racial identity.1. Ethnic Awareness Stage: Starts in early childhood around age 3or 4. At this stage the family serves as the significant ethnicgroup model and depending on the amount of ethnicexpression in the household, positive or neutral attitudes areformed.2. White Identification Stage: Begins once children enter schooland peers and the school environment become powerful forcesin conveying and reinforcing racial prejudice, which starts tonegatively impact their self-esteem and identity. Becomingaware of their difference leads to wanting to identify withwhite society and distance themselves from their Asianheritage.Dr. Jean Kim hasworked to enhancediversity in universitiesas an educator, leader,and administrator. Sheis currently aconsultant.3. Awakening to Social Political Consciousness Stage: Means theadoption of a new perspective, usually associated with increased political awareness and anunderstanding of oppression and oppressed groups. The primary result is no longer wantingto identify with white society.4. The Redirection Stage: Characterized by a reconnection and pride with one’s AsianAmerican heritage and culture. This is often followed by a realization of white privilege and2
oppression as the reason for the negative experience of Asian communities. Anger aboutwhite racism may be a part of this stage.5. Incorporation Stage: Represents the highest form of identity evolution. It includes apositive and comfortable identity as Asian American and a respect for other racial/culturalgroups. The feelings of association for or against white culture are no longer an importantissue.Black American Racial Identity (William Cross, 1991, 1995) – Thisframework identifies a continuum that leads Black Americans to form apositive racial identity.1. Pre-encounter: The individual absorbs many of beliefs andvalues of the dominant white culture, including the notion that“white is right” and “Black is wrong”. They often de-emphasizetheir own racial group membership and seek to assimilate andbe accepted by whites. Stereotypes, omissions, and distortions,combined with an image of white superiority, to some degreesocialize Black children to value the role models, lifestyles, andimages of beauty of white culture over those of their owncultural group. The individual may actively or passively distancethemselves from other Blacks.Dr. William Cross Jr. isa leading theorist andresearcher in thepsychology and identitydevelopment of peopleof color. His book,“Shade of Black”, isconsidered a classic inthe field of racialidentity.2. Encounter: This stage begins in adolescence (middle school orhigh school) when a teen or young adult is forced by an event orseries of events to acknowledge the impact of racism in theirlife. For example, being followed around by security guards atthe mall, or viewing media images of police brutality againstBlack men and women. As a result of this, the individual mayreach the conclusion that many whites will not view them as an equal and to the reality thatone cannot truly be white. The individual begins to focus on identity as a member of agroup targeted by racism.3. Immersion/Emersion: During this transitional point in the model, the individualsimultaneously desires to surround themselves with visible symbols of their own racialidentity and actively avoid symbols of whiteness. The individual begins to actively seek outopportunities to explore aspects their own history and culture with support of membersfrom their own racial background.4. Internalization: Secure in their own sense of racial identity, the individual becomes willingto establish meaningful relationships with whites who acknowledge and are respective oftheir own self-definition. The individual is now ready to begin coalitions with members ofother oppressed groups.5. Internalization-Commitment: During this fifth stage, anchored in their positive sense ofracial identity, individuals have found ways to translate their own personal sense of3
Blackness into a plan of action or a general sense of commitment to concerns of Blacks as agroup, which is sustained over time.Latino Identity Orientations(Bernardo Ferdman and Plácida I.Gallegos, 2001) – Dr. Ferdman andDr. Gallegos propose that Latinxindividuals develop orientations orlenses through which they view theiridentity. Their orientation or lensdepends on their experiences withsocial institutions including the family,education system, peer groups, andU.S. cultural racial constructs, etc.Note: This is not a linear stage modelthat youth will progress through inorder.1. Latino Integrated:understanding of racialconstructs and ability tochallenge them2. Latino Identified: acceptanceof the races Latino and whiteand identification with LatinoDr. Plácida I. Gallegos is a Principal with ICW Consultinggroup. She currently supports individuals from allbackgrounds, groups and organizations in thriving andachieving optimal outcomes.Dr. Ferdman is professor of organizational psychologyat the California School of Professional Psychology ofAlliant International University. He conducts research ondiversity and inclusion, multicultural leadership,Latino/Latina identity, and Latinos/Latinas in theworkplace.3. Subgroup Identified: identification of multiple Latino races and identification with aregional subgroup4. Latino as Other: identification as a generic Latino due to mixed heritage5. Undifferentiated: colorblindness, adherence to dominant culture, and tendency to attributefailure to the individual rather than racial constructs and systems of oppression6. White Identified: acceptance of white and Latino races and identification with white andrejection of Latino.4
White Racial Identity Development Model (Janet Helms,1995) - This framework identifies a continuum that leads towhite individuals developing an anti-racist white identity.1. Contact: In this stage, individuals adhere to the“colorblind” motto. They lack an understanding ofracism and often have minimal experiences with peopleof color. Racial and cultural differences are consideredto be unimportant and the individual often does notperceive themselves as belonging to the “dominant”group or having biases or prejudices. They may evenbelieve that racism is propagated by the discussion andacknowledgement of race as an issue. In this stage, if anindividual is confronted with real-world experiences orknowledge that uncovers the privileges of being white,they may move into the disintegration stage.Dr. Janet E. Helms is a researchpsychologist and educator who iswell known for her white racialidentity development theory andmodel.2. Disintegration: In this stage, the “colorblind” motto ischallenged by new information and experiences. The individual becomes increasinglyconscious of their whiteness and the privileges that it brings to them. They may experiencefeelings of guilt and shame. These emotions of guilt and shame can be modified if anindividual decides to channel these emotions in a positive way but when those emotionscontinue to dominate, they may move into the reintegration stage.3. Reintegration: This stage is characterized by a “blame-the-victim” attitude and a moreconscious belief in white racial superiority. During this stage, individuals have a tendency toidealize their own racial group and to be intolerant of others. They may feel that if whitesdo have privileges, it is most likely because they deserve them and in are in some waysuperior to other racial groups. If the person is able to combat these feelings, they may beable to move on to the next stage.4. Pseudo-Independence: During this stage which is the first stage of positive racialidentification, individuals begin to understand white privilege, and the related issues ofbias, prejudice, and discrimination on an intellectual level. At this stage, the individual doesnot feel that whites deserve privilege. While they validate the experiences of people ofcolor and support their efforts to confront racism, they look to people of color, notthemselves, to confront and uncover racism. Although this is positive white racial identity,the individual does not understand how they can be both white and non-racist together.5. Immersion/Emersion: In this stage, individuals make a genuine attempt to connect to theirown white identity and to be anti-racist. This stage is usually accompanied by deep concernwith understanding and connecting to other whites who are or confronting issues of racismand oppression. This stage is marked by increasing experiential and affective understanding.6. Autonomy: The last stage is reached when an individual has a clear understanding of andpositive connection to their white racial identity while also actively pursuing social justice.5
Individuals at this stage are knowledgeable about racial, ethnic and cultural differences,value diversity, and accept their role in perpetuating racism.Biracial Identity Development (W.S. Carlos Poston, 1990) – During his graduate work at theUniversity of California at Santa Barbara, W.S. Carlos Poston proposed this theory of biracial identitydevelopment.1. Personal Identity: sense of self unrelated to ethnic grouping; occurs during childhood2. Choice of Group: as a result of multiple factors, individuals feel pressured to choose oneracial or ethnic group identity over another3. Categorization: choices influenced by status of the group, parental influence, culturalknowledge, appearance4. Enmeshment/Denial: guilt and confusion about choosing an identity that isn’t fullyexpressive of all their cultural influences; denial of differences between the racialgroupings; possible exploration of the identities that were not chosen in stages 2 and 35. Appreciation: of multiple identities6. Integration: sense of wholeness, integrating multiple identitiesReferencesCross, W. E., Jr. (1991). Shades of Black: Diversity in African-American identity. Philadelphia: TempleUniversity Press, 1991.Cross, W. E., Jr. (1995). “The psychology of Nigrescence: Revising the Cross model,” in J.G. Ponterotto, J.M. Casa, L.S. Suzuki, & C.M. Alexander (Eds.), Handbook of multicultural counseling (pp. 93-122).Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Ferdman, B. M., and Gallegos, P. I. (2001). “Latinos and racial identity development.” In C. L.Wijeyesinghe & B. W. Jackson III (Eds.), New Perspectives on Racial Identity Development: ATheoretical and Practical Anthology (pp. 32-66). New York: New York University Press.Helms, J. E. (1995). “An update of Helms’s white and people of color racial identity models.” In J.G.Ponterotto, J. M. Casa, L.S. Suzuki, & C.M. Alexander (Eds.), Handbook of MulticulturalCounseling (pp. 181-198). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Horse, P. G. (2005). “Native American identity.” New Directions for Student Services, 109: 61-68.Kim, J. (1981). Processes of Asian American identity development: A study of Japanese Americanwomen’s perceptions of their struggle to achieve positive identities as Americans of Asian6
ancestry. Doctoral Dissertation University of Massachusetts Amherst. Available from Proquest.AAI8118010.Kim, J. (2001). “Asian American racial identity theory.” In C. L. Wijeyesinghe & B. W. Jackson III (Eds.),New Perspectives on Racial Identity Development: A Theoretical and Practical Anthology (pp.138-161). New York: New York University PressPoston, W. S. C. (1990). “The biracial identity development model: A needed addition.” Journal ofCounseling and Development, 69(2): 152-55.7
A student’s family and community serve as the significant ethnic and racial group models. As Kim (2001) explains, depending on the amount of ethnic expression in the household and/or community, positive or neutral attitudes and identities may be formed. For the stage models, the authors who developed them acknowledge that the stages