The formation of racial-ethnic identity for minority children and youth matters, particularly in the context of home and school. Young children’s racial-ethnic identity, “has implications for their relationships with in-group and out-group members and is associated with their level of perceived competency and self-acceptance,” (Corenblum & Amstrong, 2012, .p. 133). Increases in cognitive development is associated with increases in racial-ethnic identity (REI) and REI is linked to self-esteem and attitudes towards the in-group.
Adolescents consider the idea of doing well in school a central component to their potential and perceived options for the future. The possible future selves of youth are developed based on personal ideals and social influences such as the family, school, peers, and the media. Youth who connect their academic identity to other important social identities, such as their racial-ethnic identity or social class, are able to work through academic challenges to attain academic goals. Likewise, when educational aspirations are synonymous with family values, youth are able to envision academic achievements and success as part of their academic possible selves.
I attended a predominantly Latino and Black school from my Head Start program to the Catholic school where I entered at Kindergarten and graduated in eighth grade. My future possible self as a Latina was nurtured at home and school. Though I didn't understand the impact of my micro and macro environments, I clearly benefited from my surroundings. I lived in a strong Latino household where culture, history, music, and language where overtly, and sometimes covertly, expressed and I attended a school community whereby my neighbors, the church, clubs, store owners, and peers I socialized with were of Latino or Black heritage. All around me, adults communicated goals of academic success and family commitment.
My educational foundation, while culturally affirming, did not adequately prepare me for high school's academic rigor. My older siblings, however, served as role models to continue with my future possible self as they overtly communicated the importance of completing high school, beginning and completing college, and having aspirations for their future career goals. I realized that this snapshot of my personal story was reflected in my research on Latino youth’s racial-ethnic identity development and academic success. I discovered that there are key components to my experience that are echoed in the literature.