Co-author Deborah Rivas-Drake writes about discussing race, ethnicity, and identity with teens

March 15, 2019

With co-author Adriana J. Umaña-Taylor, Professor Deborah Rivas-Drake has published a book titled Below the Surface: Talking with Teens about Race, Ethnicity, and Identity. The text is a guide to the latest research on how young people can develop positive ethnic-racial identities and strong interracial relations


Published by Princeton University Press, Below the Surface explores the latest research in ethnic and racial identity and interracial relations among diverse youth in the United States. Drawing from multiple disciplines, including developmental psychology, social psychology, education, and sociology, the authors demonstrate that young people can have a strong ethnic-racial identity and still view other groups positively. They show that, in fact, possessing a solid ethnic-racial identity makes it possible to have a more genuine understanding of other groups.

During adolescence, teens reexamine, redefine, and consolidate their ethnic-racial identities in the context of family, schools, peers, communities, and the media. The authors explore each of these areas and the ways in which ideas of ethnicity and race are implicitly and explicitly taught. They provide convincing evidence that all young people—ethnic majority and minority alike—benefit from engaging in meaningful dialogues about race and ethnicity with caring adults in their lives, which help them build a better perspective about their identity and a foundation for engaging in positive relationships with others.

The book is a resource for parents, teachers, educators, school administrators, and all who want to help young people navigate their growth and development successfully. Says Dr. Robert Sellers, “Below the Surface is a refreshing and comprehensive review of the current state of the research literature on ethnic-racial identity and socialization processes. It is a must-read for scholars interested in conducting research in the area as well as for practitioners committed to delivering effective educational services to adolescents.”