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Dark-Skinned Lives: An observation of adult development.

Dark-Skinned Lives: An observation of adult development.

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Published by John Paul Sharp
My third observational paper for developmental psychology over the life-span. For the purposes of furthering my learning in human development, I reached out to friends, colleagues, and family with different backgrounds from my own. I asked them six questions exploring their views on their culture, family, and choices for their identity between late adolescence and early adulthood.
My third observational paper for developmental psychology over the life-span. For the purposes of furthering my learning in human development, I reached out to friends, colleagues, and family with different backgrounds from my own. I asked them six questions exploring their views on their culture, family, and choices for their identity between late adolescence and early adulthood.

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Published by: John Paul Sharp on Mar 12, 2013
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07/10/2013

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Dark-Skinned Lives: An Observation of Adult Development. John Paul Sharp
1
 John Paul SharpMarch 2013Dark-Skinned Lives: AnObservation of AdultDevelopment.
 
Dark-Skinned Lives: An Observation of Adult Development. John Paul Sharp2
I am a writer, director, and performing artist living atop the Capitol Hillneighborhood in Seattle, Washington. For the purposes of furthering mylearning in human development, I reached out to friends, colleagues, andfamily with different backgrounds from my own. I asked them sixquestions exploring their views on their culture, family, and choices fortheir identity between late adolescence and early adulthood.I received two responses: one from my theatre colleague, a self-described
“dark
-
skinned American female (i.e., ‘Sally’),”
and one from my partner,who is also a dark-
skinned American male (i.e., ‘Sam’)
. Sally is a 43-year-old actor who led a relatively privileged childhood in both urban and ruralsettings along western America. Sam is a 40-year-old HIV testing counselorand grew up from a poor family in Texas and spent his early adulthood inKansas. While Sam identifies as black, his mother was Mexican and hisfather is Afro-Caribbean, from Puerto Rico.
Colorblindness vs. Multiculturalism
 Almost defiantly so, neither Sam nor Sally seemed to attach themselves toany kind of Black culture as adults in their 40s, but noted it was somethingthey thought about often and seriously in their 20s and early 30s. They bothalso spoke of being a little lost during this time, engaging in risky behaviors or just not taking life seriously enough. Today, they are bothmore focused on career and family goals than ever before.It seems to me, from my own White American experience, that BlackAmericans, and minority groups in general, are grouped up andgeneralized more often than White Americans by education leaders,politicians, scientists, and the media which report their views. Could it beall this stereotyping has moved both Sally and Sam to a colorblind ideologyas adults?Some psychologists believe colorblindness is a form of racism and suggestmulticulturalism is better (Williams, 2011). For me, as a White American,
 
Dark-Skinned Lives: An Observation of Adult Development. John Paul Sharp
3
multiculturalism has been very useful to educate myself to be betterequipped to maintain healthy working relationships with diverse groups ofpeople. But is multiculturalism really practical for all people? Could it be areality that colorblindness is not just easier, but more efficient for some
people’s day
-to-day interactions and thinking?
Does money make a difference?
Sally earned her bachelor degree several years ago while Sam is currentlystill working toward earning his, taking classes part-time at Seattle CentralCommunity College. Could it be that because of his lower socio-economicstatus, his development was stalled from a greater depressed affect?In 2011, psychologist Justin Jager conducted a longitudinal study inMaryland to explore any possible differences between Black and WhiteAmericans in regard to depressive affect (i.e., shifting from mentalstability) in adolescence and early adulthood. Within his findings, he founda very small percentage of mental illness over all participants, butsuggested Black Americans from low-income families are at the greatestrisk of an upward pivot in depressive affect, especially when faced withmultiple challenging social roles related to work, family, and goals (Jager,2011, p. 465-466).Both Sam and Sally illustrated this point when sharing how they separatedfrom their family culture in their adulthood.
Sally: “
My entire family is in the medicalfield, so my decision to become aperformer was met with dubious support
and optimistic concern.“
 
Sam: “
I am capable of many things if I setmy mind to it. Culturally, my parentswould not have understood this drive
.”
 
While Sally’s struggle with her parents mainly involved her career choice,Sam’s struggle with his parents is
much more fundamental in nature.
Sam’s actual
number of challenging social roles was possibly much greater

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