Date of Award

Summer 2019

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation



First Advisor

Bret Kloos


In addition to the normative tasks of emerging adulthood and stressors of transitioning into the college environment, Black undergraduate students must also contend with race-related stressors (i.e., racial discrimination, racial stereotypes). Studies suggest that parent-child communications preparing youth for encounters of racism and instilling pride about their race (i.e., parent racial socialization) protect youth from the ramifications of racial discrimination (Harris-Britt, Valrie, Kurtz-Costes, & Rowley, 2007). Although peers have been identified as another important resource in the racial socialization process (Lesane-Brown, Brown, Caldwell, & Sellers, 2005) as well as youth’s ability to cope with discrimination (Datnow & Cooper, 1997; Butler-Barnes, Chavous, Hurd, & Varner, 2013), the positive impacts of peers in the lives of Black youth have gone largely understudied. As such, additional study is needed to understand peer-specific race socialization practices among college students and their relation to Black college students’ discrimination experiences and subsequent outcomes.

Using a multi-method qualitative approach, the current study sought to fill this gap by highlighting the contributions of peer racial socialization in the development of Black adolescents. Specific research questions are as follows: (1A) What is the process (i.e., thematic content, frequency, circumstances) of peer racial socialization messages between Black college students and their peers; (2) What is the concordance between peer racial socialization content and modalities and current conceptualizations of parent racial socialization; (3) How do peer racial socialization messages differ between males and females. Participants included 35 (15 focus group; 20 individual interview) self-identified Black undergraduate students in the Southeastern region of the United States. Sixty percent of the population was female.

Results suggest, that similar to parents, Black college students communicate messages such as cultural messages and racial barrier messages; however, distinct from parents, they also communicate messages such as political division messages, academic messages, and messages about the everyday racial hassles experienced on the college campus. Findings have implications for the re-conceptualization of the impact of peers in the developmental processes of Black youth, identifying potential strengths in Black youth’s microsystems, and informing peer-focused interventions for Black college students.