by Moin Syed
I just returned from the 2012 SRCD Themed Meeting on Positive Minority Development. First, it was nice to have an opportunity to meet with my colleagues from SRCD (and SRA) in a much smaller setting (attendance was capped at 350). There were only 4-5 sessions going at each time slot, which means nobody had to give a talk to only four attendees in the room.
Beyond that, it was great to have a meeting devoted to developmental issues pertaining to ethnic minority youth. The atmosphere was comfortable and it was refreshing for everyone to not have to spend the beginning of the talk explaining why focusing on their particular topic was important and worthy of study.
An important word in the title of the meeting was positive development. Of course, focusing on positive development does not mean putting on rose-colored glasses and pretending that ethnic minority youth do not have problems. They do, as do most people. The major advance in the last few decades has been a move away from locating these problems within “culture” and developing a deeper understanding of how problems are a product of individuals within complex social, structural, and interpersonal contexts. I find it sort of sad that we consider that an “advance,” but there you go.
Despite the advances, there is clearly still room for improvement. For example, the program was dominated by scholars focusing on African American and Latino youth, with relatively less focus on Asian American, Native Americans, Mixed-ethnics, or other groups. Although this reflects the historical focus of ethnic minority research within SRCD (and SRA), it highlights how there remains a sizable gap in our knowledge of “ethnic minority youth.” I hope that you, dear reader, will pitch in to help fill that gap.