Social Challenges of Bicultural Youth
Being a bicultural youth in a new environment poses a variety of challenges for the person. An individual is exposed to the potential social stigma and other communication issues, which affect the person’s self-esteem and influence the person during the complicated process of puberty and coming-of-age. It is essential to recognize the social challenges of bicultural youth, and address them on personal and social level in order to prevent psychological harm to an individual. This paper addresses a specific case of a young individual, whose racial background and a new environment have caused him to feel racial prejudices toward him, but the experience can still be shifted to a more positive one and serve as an example of effective communication in similar situations.
The described youth is embodied in sixteen years-old Walter, a teenager with a mixed racial background, who has moved to a new school and faces various racial stereotypes and harassments in the new environment. Alien to such a treatment, Walter finds it difficult to communicate with his parents, especially his white mother who, as her son supposes, has never had to go through such an experience because of her skin color. Walter is coping with various challenges as a bicultural child. He is exposed to racism for the first time of his life, and he is a target of racial jokes and prejudices. He feels being watched and looked down because of his race, which can be seen in the way police or school administration talk to him. He experiences bias when he wants to apply for specific classes; the bias is related to his race and stereotypes related to it. Also, he has a hard time communicating with his parents since they rarely talked about the race issue at home, and he feels that his mother, who wants him to share his problems, would not understand since she is white and did not go through the same process as he does. The issues may stay with Walter as he matures and transitions into adulthood since the mistreatment and unjust behavior toward the teenager can develop insecurities and hatred within the individual. Therefore, he may become very closed, unwilling to open up, suspicious, and biased himself; and this may combine with his psychological insecurities and fears. It is difficult to underestimate the influence teenage issues have on the adult behavior; therefore, the current problems of Walter and their potential role for his future life are closely linked and need to be addressed.
In Walter’s situation, it is essential to establish a strong communication bond between the parents and their son as it is an effective tool to battle racial prejudice and overcome psychological problems. The parents need to be the ones helping their son cope with the challenging environment and new racial experience. Firstly, it is important for the parents to recognize the problem and speak with the son; it was implied that racial discussions were rare in the house, but the new environment requires a change of the situation. Since Walter has a hard time communicating with his mother as she is white, the father may be the leader in the communication and approach the teenager. As a black person growing up in the United States decades earlier, he may have also been a subject of racial discrimination, so it may be easier for his son to relate to him as well as listen to the father’s advice and reflections. The father may speak out about his past as well as discuss the cultural situation in their specific family. When the communication has been arranged, it is essential to involve both parents in the process to show young Walter that his family truly resembles cultural acceptance and is a practical example of overcoming racial stereotypes and biases. Also, the parents can help their son to improve his self-confidence by spending more time with him and communicating with the school administration regarding previous racial issues. For instance, they can be an important factor to encourage their son follow with the classes he has selected, and they can also approach the teacher and the principal in order to discuss the racial prejudices in school. The parents may also help the son to make some friends by allowing the son to invite the schoolmates to the house, organizing some events, which may be interesting for teenagers, and may help the son to socialize. Also, it is important to spend more time communicating on various issues, which trouble the family, spend more time together, and devote more focus to socializing with the new environment as a family. The parents have to embrace the cultural strengths themselves; for instance, they may get involved in some multicultural communities and organizations in their residence, and they should also revisit their family history. A good example may be a family trip or discovery of some roots, so a son can relate to them and which can give the parents a better understanding of what their family represents.
When discussing racial problems, it is important to make Walter feel good about his racial background and the fact that he combines two races. The family may consult a professional to help developing those feelings as well as coming to terms with their specific situation. Communicating with a specialist may be beneficial in the situation as the expert can point out the most effective tools to deal with the issues as well as help family communicate their fears and problems more openly. The expert may advice the parents to spend more time with the child in order to discuss the way the son feels; they need to understand the reasons and consequences for his behavior as well as the influence of racially biased environment on him. The professional may also suggest getting more involved socially so the child is exposed to different social groups and has an opportunity to meet a variety of people, which may be beneficial for the family and remove some of the stereotypes and negative feelings. Also, as it was mentioned before, it is important to address the ones responsible for the mixed racial feelings and speak with school authorities. The parents may even launch an online campaign in order to emphasize on the racial problem in the community and make the society acknowledge the issue in order to bring more people to battle it. However, it would be essential not to interfere with the teenager’s life too much and not make him in a specific way directly because then, the teenager will not learn and remain influenced by his parents to make the decisions for him. Instead, it is important to choose a different strategy where racial discussions and offline campaigns and actions would be cooperated and crafted by the entire family. When it comes to schools and society in general, it would be advisable to appeal to them directly in order to emphasize on the existing problem and strengthen the need to solve it. The abovementioned online campaign can be followed with offline activism to bring more positive feelings for people, who represent different backgrounds, and arrange a healthier and more fruitful interracial communication.
Therefore, the issue of race and the difficulties the Walter experiences because of them can be addressed using professional help and establishing a strong communication bond within a family. The latter will serve as a tool to address community and seek effective solutions for the existing social issues, which exist in the described environment. The establishment of effective communication between the teenager and the parents is the major step for reaching the goal.