Butler-Barnes awarded seed grant to study parental messaging about race

Faculty; Research; Social Work

​Sheretta Butler-Barnes has been awarded a Research Seed Grant from the Washington University Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research (OVCR) to collect preliminary data on how White and Black parents communicate to their children about race and racism. The one-year, $37,500 grant will support the preparation for a larger grant submission.

Butler-Barnes, a developmental psychologist and associate professor at the Brown School, will work on the project with Lori Markson, a developmental psychologist and associate professor with the university’s  Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.

“The increasing diversity of the United States has brought large cultural shifts in people’s attitudes toward those from different social groups, but progress is slow,” Butler-Barnes said. “Parents of White children might talk about race and racism with their children, but it is seen as an option,  whereas parents of minority children must follow early racial socialization practices to insulate their children from racism.”

“We seek to gather preliminary data that will help us understand the type of messaging parents in the St. Louis region are communicating to their children and how this impacts their child’s own explicit and implicit racial attitudes.”

The OVCR Program provides funds to support interdisciplinary teams collaborating on new and innovative research that has potential for broad scientific or societal impact.

Butler-Barnes’ expertise and scholarly work is on the impact of racism and the use of culturally strength-based assets on the educational and health outcomes of Black American families. She was recently appointed to the Anti-Racism Task Force of the Society of Research on Adolescence and serves as the  co-chair of the Differences & Intersectionalities section of the American Educational Research Association.

She is also a guest editor of “Racial Justice in Learning Contexts,” an upcoming, special issue of the journal Social Sciences that will feature research on transdisciplinary perspectives to dismantle racism and promote racial justice in classrooms. (Manuscripts may be submitted through Sept. 30 – visit their website for more information.)