Remember how good you felt when Black History Month rolled around and you finally got to learn and talk about significant African American historical figures in school? Well, according to new research published in the Journal of Child Development, affirming a black child’s desire to learn about their race does more than just give them a personal boost, it helps them academically as well.

The study, conducted by Ming-Te Wang and James P. Huguley of the University of Pittsburg and Harvard University respectively, found that “racial socialization”—teaching kids about their culture and involving them in activities that promote racial pride and connection—helps to offset the discrimination and racial prejudices children face by the outside world.

Wang explains:

“Our findings challenge the notion that ‘race blindness’ is a universally ideal parenting approach, especially since previous research has shown that racially conscious parenting strategies at either extreme—either ‘race blindness’ or promoting mistrust of other races—are associated with negative outcomes for African American youth.

“When African American parents instill a proud, informed, and sober perspective of race in their sons and daughters, these children are more likely to experience increased academic success.”

Wang’s study surveyed 630 adolescents from middle class backgrounds to explore how racial discrimination and prejudice in school affects their G.P.A., educational goals, and future aspirations. They found racial pride to be the single most important factor in guarding against racial discrimination, and discovered it had a direct impact on the students’ grades, future goals, and cognitive engagement.

Despite fewer instances of multicultural and inclusive learning in school and the increased frequency in which black students are treated more harshly than their peers, Wang’s study shows that teaching kids, especially black children, to take pride in their culture is an integral part of their success.

Wang sums it up:

“Our study provides empirical evidence that the longstanding practice in the African American community of cultivating racial pride and preparing children to face racial bias in society should be considered among appropriate and beneficial practices in parenting Black children.”

  • Tonton Michel

    This study is late to a conclusion that any aware parent, and competent teacher has known for decades. A more interesting study would be what schools and community are succeeding with these students and why. What are the effects on a growing segement that chooses to dismiss focus or interest in racial esteem building in favor of inclusive or color blind academics.

  • beautiful mic

    IMO, that has all to do with a feeling of belonging, self knowledge, self worth, confidence and validation, and not necessarily race identification. You can have that and be indifferent to, or not so proud of, being black, especially if you can mentally address, revolve, social/systematic adversity outside the confounds of race identification.

  • Rue

    Didn’t Malcolm X say this a long time ago:
    If You are taught that you’vr never done anything, you’ll never do anything.(or something)

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  • J.Nicole

    While its pretty much common sense, I’m glad the study came out regardless of how late it is. I wonder had I not had the advantages I had with not just learning about our history but a wider and creative focused curriculum, would I be the woman I am today. I can’t place credit directly to the schools since the bulk of what I learned was at home as well, but the study is a good start. It now needs to be implemented in not only schools, but in the home as well. The problem lies in the latter. If you have a group of parents who were only taught their history in February, it makes it harder and harder. It is, and will always be a systemic problem.

  • Allie

    I’m wondering why it takes Harvard & U Pitt to validate, what Howard U’s research has been putting out for decades smh. As a teacher I already do this for all of my students.

  • Bump Mediocrity

    And this is precisely why Black kids AREN’T taught their history in schools. Because it empowers them on a level that is threatening to the culture of power. It is no accident that Black History isn’t taught as American History. If kids were truly empowered with the facts you wouldn’t see the mess within our culture that is promoted today.

    It wasn’t till I was in college that I learned about Egyptology, how we educated the Greeks at the University of Timbuktu, how we were the inventors of science and math and music, to learning about the middle passage, to American Chattel Slavery, to systematic disenfranchisement and so forth. Our history doesn’t begin with slavery but it isn’t coincidence that the little that you do find in textbooks relegates to civil rights and Jim Crow. Hell. They don’t even show “Roots” in schools.

    It’s up to the parents to empower their kids with their legacy ( slavery and beyond) and unfortunately our parents can be quite ignorant and negligent with the responsibilities of educating their children outside of the classroom. It’s a cycle. They don’t know so they don’t even bother to learn for the sake of their own children. Rinse. Wash. Repeat. If you wait for the system to teach the babies you’ll be waiting for a lifetime.

  • DeezaPeeza

    Another reason why HBCU’s are STILL & will FOREVER BE very important – for undergrad, at minimum.

  • Sarah

    Very interesting study and powerful conclusion!!

  • teamtimberance

    I completely and wholeheartedly agree with this study. Clutch, I will be linking this article on my blog, and of course giving you proper credit.

    Findings like these completely support my endeavor in the self-published African-American fairy tale “The Prince and Timberance.” Black children everywhere deserve positive images of people who look like them and this fact can not be ignored. It is crucial to their development and self-esteem! In 2013, I encourage us all to really take hold of this concept and show it’s truth in our daily lives.

    Thank you for speaking on such integral topics.

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  • Chillyroad

    I appreciate what you are saying but I am a descendant of West Africans and I don’t relate to Egyptians of today or yesterday. I suspect my ancestors were Yorubas living in Ghana. Don’t asky why I think that. I just have a feeling.

  • Anthony

    Chillyroad, how did your folks end up in Ghana? I did not know there was a significant Yoruba diaspora there.

  • Anthony

    The conclusion of this study is as obvious as why it is good to wash your hands. It will be interesting to see how the right tries to make this negative or “racist.”

  • YeahRight2011

    I agree with Chilly on this one. I took African History, with an Mandika professor (and Historian) who was very passionate about the cultural, social, and scientific contributions of West, Central, and South Africa. That made a huge impact on my perspective. I’m not ashamed to admit that I had to recover from the lopsided view of Egypt vs the rest of Africa that is prevalent with Black Americans. Egypt (along with Ethiopia and the Moors) is researched and studied while West Africa is neglected or subject to arrogant interpretation when its convenient. Maybe its because West African cultures and their accomplishments haven’t been validated by Whites yet.

  • Chillyroad


    There are Yorubas in Ghana Besides can you name one place in the world you can’t find a Nigerian. I suspect when we travel to Mars we will find the remains of an Igbo merchant lol. Lots of Nigerians go to Ghana for school. My suspicions is based solely on my affinity for Ghana and the fact that when I hear people speaking Yoruba even down to their body language they remind me of Haitians speaking French Creole.

  • Key this is an acceptable area of “research” at the University of Pittsburg and Harvard??…. What’s next…determining if smoking cigarettes is injurious to one’s health? wow,…speechless. Hey, Wang and Huguley?? (and whoever else felt the need to support this pathetically obvious study)…you want to do something worthwhile with your time???…go pick up and study Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome by J. DeGruy and White like Me by T. Wise and People’s History of the U.S. by H. Zimm and then let those be the first of at least1000 books you need to read up on to familiarize yourself with the obvious…then maybe you can come up with some profound topics of study that are a bit more sophisticated, specific, pragmatic, and less infantile. Your study was the equivalent of a kindergarten finger painting project. Sigh, ….but then again,..why should I be surprised?? This is a what you get in a world of white supremacy… the ignoring of what’s always been expressed in our coummunities. Too little too late…thanks but no thanks!
    Listen, I am sure you meant well….but if you REALLY want to help… then there are plenty of social/cultural/political/spiritual/economic experts in our communities that can very much familiarize you with the many issues that we face in our many communities…go seek them out…it’s very easy to find them…it’s not like they are hidden in the dark caves in the mountains of Tibet….sheeesh. ….smh.

  • mikki

    I agree with the study BUT the researchers only studied middle-class Black children. When you are poor and Black this is way messier and the lines aren’t as tight. I believe it should happen either way but a study that examines racial pride with low-income Blacks is needed too

  • Lily

    That’s probably the reason why 1st generation West African kids do better in school than African American kids. I’ve known 2nd gen Chinese friends that didn’t do well as compared to their 1st generation peers academically.

    There really isn’t a course devoted to West African history for high school students as an optional course. Though it did take forever for my old high school to add European and Asian History classes. I think it should be a standard for high school students to choose a history/cultural course. It will build at least some self esteem for students.

    It was really until college that I discovered that the african side of my ancestors (I’m Haitian so this may be different for African-Americans). I am a mix of Yoruba, Fon and Fulani and from what I’ve learned their culture, history and folklore is fascinating.

    I know that In Brazil there were slaves descended from the Hausa people who were literate which made their poor, illiterate Portuguese slave masters jealous. They also led huge slave revolts in Brazil as well. With knowledge all black kids can be proud of their descendants rather than thinking that Africans lived in trees and other ignorant and untruthful things of Africans.

  • Lily

    Having confidence in one’s identity is more important than wealth. I’ve seen kids of other ethnicities who were poor, but were sure of themselves and still succeeded.

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  • LP

    Great article. However, as an FYI it is the University of Pittsburgh (with an H!) Just a proud alum wanting to make sure my school gets proper acknowledgement.

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  • Sunny

    This is very true. There is a school in Detroit called Nsoroma Institute that is an African centered school. The children have a strong cultural foundation and academics. They also participate in organic gardening and auqaponics so they can grow produce and fish for the surrounding community. The day starts with meditaion too. This study is obvious but for the non belivers you have to see it to believe it. Check out the school. or

  • simplyme

    Way to completely miss the point…

  • Ravi

    Some of my friends work there. I like the school a lot.

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  • Kathy

    Will multicultural school stop teaching white children to hate themselves and their heritage now?

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