Growing Up in America: The Power of Race in the Lives of Teens

Kara Powell | Jan 11, 2011

Ive been hearing a bit recently about a new book based on the data from Christian Smiths National Study of Youth and Religion. The book, Growing Up in America: The Power of Race in the Lives of Teens, by Brad Christerson, Korie L. Edwards, and Richard Flory looks at how race impacts teenagers.

This is a great book, one I can wholeheartedly recommend to those interested in race and kids (which I hope means all of us). Im going to unpack some of its most salient points in future blogs, but for now, Ill give you the big picture.

The intent of the book is to ask: Does society differentially invest in youth of different racial and class backgrounds, thereby predisposing them to follow certain paths and fulfill particular societal roles? In other words, are white, African-American, Latino, and Asian-American youth socialized in different ways?

The overwhelming answer from their research is yes, especially when examined in 4 key social institutions: the family, peers, school, and religion. Ill take a look at each of these institutions in the next 4 blogs.

Part of what I love about this book is that it celebrates the assets and liabilities of various racial groups socialization. In other words, each race has been socialized in ways that help as well as ways that hurt. Ill even say that each race tends to be socialized in ways that both reflect Kingdom values as well as counter them.

Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.


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