Emerging Into Adulthood in the Face of Racial Discrimination: Physiological, Psychological, and Sociopolitical Consequences for African American Youth

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Abstract

Emerging adulthood is a critical developmental period that bridges adolescence and adulthood and is distinguished by identity exploration through education, vocation, relationships, and culture. However, the transition to adulthood is disrupted for African Americans, because they experience interpersonal and institutional discrimination in everyday settings including school, employment, and housing. In this article, we provide a summary of the current literature and explore the psychological, physiological, and sociopolitical consequences of racial discrimination for African American emerging adults. Extant research underscores the stress that discrimination places on African American emerging adults and the deleterious effects that discrimination has on mental and physical health. Equally, scholarship highlights the significance of discrimination in shaping African American emerging adult sociopolitical development. Finally, we recommend applications of the current literature toward the well-being and development of African American emerging adults and their communities in terms of clinical care, socialization, and civic engagement.

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