Few studies have actually explored the adolescent subculture of minority students. In fact, most youth subculture research has given little attention to Black adolescents in general and to Black high school students in particular. Generally desegregation studies have also failed to investigate the nature of minority high school youth culture and whether Black children are integrated into the larger social world of desegregated schools. This study explores these questions by describing the youth culture of Black adolescents attending desegregated high schools and identifying the ways in which these students cope with their desegregation experience. The present article begins with a review of the existing literature, first on minority group students and adolescent society and then on the effects of busing on race relations. It then introduces data from a study of five Connecticut high schools participating in a voluntary desegregation program. The findings describe a variety of strategies used by minority students as they come to terms with the dominant youth culture of their predominantly White high schools. Finally, this study addresses itself to
variation among schools in terms of student coping styles, and speculates on the effects that local school culture can have on the desegregation experiences of minority students.
MINORITY GROUP STUDENTS AND ADOLESCENT SOCIETY Little of the research on high school adolescent subcultures, or what Coleman (1961) termed “adolescent society,” has dealt extensively with minority students. In their concern with youth socialization and the emergence of adolescent subcultures, investigators have generally relied on a traditional set of independent variables, including family organization, social class, religion, parental education, and community structure. Race, as an independent variable, although not completely neglected, has not been used systematically. Gottlieb and TenHouten (1965) concluded that “in studies of youths within the formal setting of the high school, Negroes tend to be either ‘lumped’ together with other students or excluded from the analysis with the explanation that their presence would distort the findings” (p. 203). Twenty years after this observation, the literature on youth subcultures still retains much of this methodological segregation.