Campus: CSU Northridge -- December 05, 2001

CSUN Professor Receives $380,000 to Continue Study On How Children Deal with 'Everyday' Discrimination

Cal State Northridge has received $380,000 from the National Science Foundation to continue research on how children deal with "everyday: racial and ethnic discrimination.

The four-year grant from the Behavioral and Cognitive Science Division of the National Science Foundation supports "The Cultural Pluralism Project," a study by CSUN child development professor W. David Wakefield.

"The purpose of the research is to understand how young people make sense of the 'everyday' racial and ethnic discrimination that often occurs in their daily lives, and to provide parents, teachers and professionals ways to facilitate positive intercultural dialogues and interactions between young people," Wakefield said.

Wakefield said "everyday discrimination" is discrimination that occurs regularly to people as they participate in common everyday activities such as shopping, going to the movies and going to a restaurant.
Earlier research in the project found that many young people who are members of an ethnic minority group feel that they are discriminated against on a regular basis.

"For example, many African American and Latino boys feel they are looked upon as suspicious and followed by store personnel in such places as shopping malls and are falsely accused of shoplifting. And they note that this does not happen to their white peers," Wakefield said. "These type of negative experiences may influence some young people's attitudes and orientation to school.

"As a result," he said, "this research will be helpful to parents, teachers and professionals in finding ways to facilitate and promote the healthy development of all young people by paying attention to and better understanding the experiences of ethnic minority youth."

With the funding from the foundation, Wakefield, a graduate student and several undergraduate students will be working with Los Angeles area high school students in their "Life Skills" courses. The team will talk with the students about their experiences, ideas and concerns regarding "everyday discrimination" and discuss ways to promote positive intercultural interactions.

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