Lorenza Lockett, Ph.D.


Education: Bachelor of Science in social work (August 1999)

Master of Social Work from Arizona State University

Doctor of Philosophy in family life education and consultation at Kansas State University

McNair Project: Familial Sources in Racial/Ethnic Prejudices (1998)

Mentor: Farrell Webb, Ph.D.

The growing racial tensions and redefinition of discrimination have generated a great deal of interests in the race knowledge and race related issues. Recent surveys have demonstrated that Americans possess a duality with regards to race. The purpose of this research project is to investigate what is the family's role in the production of racial attitudes.

This investigation using an ecosystemic perspective examines how respondents developed their knowledge about others, who was most likely to influence what they knew and where they learned what they knew about others. A sample was drawn from a cadre of students from different classes across the Kansas State University campus during the spring and summer sessions resulting in a sample size of approximately 350 respondents. The sample represented all colleges including the graduate school. Student ages ranged from 18 to 49 with a mean age of 21 years. There was an imbalance in the gender ratio with females representing 83.7% and males 16.3% respectively. Racial group representations closely approximated the State's population with 90.1% European Americans and 6.6% African Americans. Other race groups accounted for 3.3% of the remaining population. At least three out of ten students reported membership in a fraternity or sorority.

There were four findings that our preliminary analysis revealed. First, students were able to identify, on average, at least twenty independent terms for all groups. Second, for each group represented there were at least 43 separate terms used (all negative). Third, 95% of the students reported using these terms at least once, with a mean usage of 6.58 terms and a median usage of 5.00 terms per student. Finally, although students did report learning some terms at home, a sizable number reported learning these terms outside of boundaries of their immediate families.

It is important to closely examine the sources of racial prejudices because they reveal much about why and how we ultimately define each other. This is vital because in a highly-developed society our social interactions must cross racial lines. Only by exploring and exposing racial fallacies can we hope to improve the quality of life for all Americans. A failure to expose and eradicate these problems will result in tension and a reduction in our standard of living.