Racial Pride

Racial pride is an attitude signifying a preference for cultural representations of one’s racial group. Much of the conceptualization and research regarding racial pride has focused on the socialization experiences of African Americans, an ethnic group within the Black population. Information about racial pride among other racial groups remains relatively unknown. The definition of racial pride evolved to denote both a racial socialization message promoting heritage and culture to children and adolescents and an attitude endorsing positive racial identity among adults. Currently, racial pride contributes to furthering the multidimensional conceptualization and measurement of socialization processes and racial identity among Blacks and, potentially, other racial groups.

Conceptualization and Measurement of Racial Pride

Conceptualization and measurement of racial pride evolved following decades of researchers attempting to understand the racial preferences of Black children under the reactionary premise that Blacks were an inferior and devalued group in the United States. In the 1930s, studies finding African American children’s preference for White over Black dolls produced a prevailing yet flawed belief in Black self-hatred, low self-esteem, and low racial pride that endured until Black self-esteem studies in the 1960s suggested the contrary. Marked by the pro-Black, proactive stance of that time, positive racial identity theories in the 1970s, followed by affirmative racial socialization theories in the 1980s, began to appear in the psychology literature with inclusion of the racial pride concept.

Racial Identity Factor

Racial pride is one of multiple racial identity attitudinal factors that describe how Blacks identify with their racial group. Conceptually, racial pride is the endorsement of a positive Black identity and an attitude of interest or involvement in activities related to the culture. Empirically, measures of racial pride are subsumed in racial identity scales such as the Black Racial Identity Attitudes Scale and brief scales to measure collectivism, religiosity, racial pride, and time orientation. Racial identity research based on racial pride attitudes consistently support its conceptual assumptions, and associate more positive pride attitudes with fewer general psychological distress symptoms and improvement in health-related behaviors, such as breast cancer-related knowledge and mammography screening. Conversely, racial pride’s contribution to racial socialization research is more complex.

Racial Socialization Factor

As a construct in the multidimensional conceptualization of racial socialization, racial pride refers to one of the messages parents convey to their children regarding the meaning of being Black. Theoretically, like other socialization messages, racial pride is transmitted intentionally and unintentionally from parents to children in tacit and explicit ways to aid in their psychological adjustment, especially in dealing with racism and discrimination in society. Empirically based racial pride measures emerged out of qualitative data from the landmark National Study of Black Americans and subsequent racial socialization measures, such as the Cultural Pride Reinforcement subscale of the Scale of Racial Socialization; this sub-scale measures knowledge about African American history and culture and positive feelings about the cultural group. Growing evidence supports greater racial pride socialization among girls than boys, whereas boys are more likely to receive socialization messages related to racial barriers such as discrimination. Moreover, racial pride differentially contributes to psychological outcomes such as depression, anger, and aggression for boys and girls. Among adolescents, racial pride has been positively associated with self-esteem, kinship social support, knowledge about one’s racial group, and favorable ingroup attitudes. However, some evidence suggests negative relationships between racial pride and academic curiosity and grade point average outcomes, raising questions about whether the pride socialization comes before or after the poor academic indicators. The complex findings surrounding racial pride provide impetus for future directions of the research.

Future Directions

For more than two thirds of a century, racial pride has helped explain a portion of how Blacks identify with their own racial group. Subsumed within racial identity research, positive pride attitudes are consistently associated with fewer general psychological distress symptoms and improvement in health-related behaviors. Yet complex correlational relationships with attitudinal and behavioral factors along with gender differences among females and males exist. Future research exploring the relationships among racial pride, racial identity, and racial socialization for Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, and other racial group members will aid in formulating multidimensional conceptualizations of racial issues in cross-cultural counseling theory. Longitudinal studies will help explain the directional associations between racial pride and its identity and socialization factors. Future research that examines the interactions among racial pride, gender, other demographic variables, racism and discrimination experiences, health, and educational outcomes will provide a more accurate understanding of the multiple factors that contribute to how individuals are socialized and how they identify with their racial group.


  1. Constantine, M. G., & Blackmon, S. (2002). Black adolescents’ racial socialization experiences: Their relations to home, school, and peer self-esteem. Journal of Black Studies, 32, 233-335.
  2. Kreuter, M. W., & Haughton, L. T. (2006). Integrating culture into health information for African American women. American Behavioral Scientist, 49(6), 794-811.
  3. Neblett, E. W., Philip, C. L., Cogburn, C. D., & Sellers, R. M. (2006). African American adolescents’ discrimination experiences and academic achievement: Racial socialization as a cultural compensatory and protective factor. Journal of Black Psychology, 32(2), 199-218.
  4. Neville, H. A., & Lily, R. (2000). The relationship between racial identity cluster profiles and psychological distress among African American college students. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 28(4), 194-207.
  5. Stevenson, H. C. (1994). Validation of the scale of racial socialization for African American adolescents: Steps toward multidimensionality. Journal of Black Psychology, 20(4), 445-168.
  6. Stevenson, H. C., McNeil, J. D., Herrero-Taylor, T., & Davis, G. Y. (2005). Influence of perceived neighborhood diversity and racism experience on the racial socialization of Black youth. Journal of Black Psychology, 31, 273-290.

See also: