Exploring Effects of Social Justice Youth Programming on Racial and Ethnic Identities and Activism for Asian American Youth

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This qualitative study explores the effects of social justice–oriented youth programming on racial and ethnic identities and social justice action for Asian American youth. Study participants were 5 male and 3 female Asian American high school students, ages 15–17, whose ethnicities included Chinese, Vietnamese, and Chinese-Vietnamese. Data sources included multiple in-depth interviews with the 8 participants, both pre- and post-programming, as well as research observations of all programming. Analysis was based in a critical ideological constructivist philosophy utilizing a grounded theory approach. Constant comparative analysis began with open coding during the data collection process, which continued after all data were collected. Open coding was followed by axial and theoretical coding, which were audited by the research team. Results indicated that before program participation, participants generally had superficial understandings of race and ethnicity and little awareness of racism, as well as limited engagement in social justice action. After program participation, they reported more sophisticated understandings of race and ethnicity as well as development of their own racial and ethnic identities. They also reported an increased sense of empowerment and social justice responsibility and greater engagement in social justice action. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

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