This study aimed to identify factors that contributed to adaptive coping young people of color engage and rely on to navigate racial stressors in the public education system and to persist into college. The study included 20 undergraduate college students between 18 and 22 years who participated in retrospective interviews documenting critical incidents of racial stressors and coping. Participants self-identified as majority Black/African American (68%) and other nationalities including Honduran, Mexican, and Sudanese. A socioecological systems framework guided in-depth coding of interviews and identified college-going cultural ethos, relational ties, sense of agency, and emotional acuity themes. Findings suggest participants existed in an interdependent system of affirmation and validation that geared them toward college aspirations amid racial stressors encountered in the U.S. public education system. Discussion centers on the value of building the capacities of youths’ social ecologies to affirm their identities and validate their presence in the U.S. education system.
- adaptive coping
- public schools
- racial stressors
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science