What We Are Reading Today: Below the Surface

Updated 16 January 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Below the Surface

  • The book explores the latest research in ethnic and racial identity and interracial relations among diverse youth in the US

Authors: Deborah Rivas-Drake and Adriana J. Umaña-Taylor

Today’s young people are growing up in an increasingly ethnically and racially diverse society. How do we help them navigate this world productively, given some of the seemingly intractable conflicts we constantly hear about? 

In Below the Surface, Deborah Rivas-Drake and Adriana Umaña-Taylor explore the latest research in ethnic and racial identity and interracial relations among diverse youth in the US, says a review on the Princeton University Press website. 

Drawing from multiple disciplines, including developmental psychology, social psychology, education, and sociology, the authors demonstrate that young people can have a strong ethnic-racial identity and still view other groups positively, and that in fact, possessing a solid ethnic-racial identity makes it possible to have a more genuine understanding of other groups. During adolescence, teens reexamine, redefine, and consolidate their ethnic-racial identities in the context of family, schools, peers, communities, and the media. 


What We Are Reading Today: The Confounding Island by Orlando Patterson

Updated 19 November 2019

What We Are Reading Today: The Confounding Island by Orlando Patterson

Author Orlando Patterson investigates the failures of Jamaica’s postcolonial democracy, exploring why the country has been unable to achieve broad economic growth and why its free elections and stable government have been unable to address violence and poverty.
Patterson “is a Jamaican who has long lived in the US, working as a sociology professor at Harvard University, which allows him both an intimacy with the island and a degree of distance through which to analyze it,” said Carrie Gibson in a review for The New York Times.
Gibson said: “Although Patterson provides extensive citations and robust discussions of theoretical frameworks, he also offers a personal story of affection and frustration, perhaps most evident in the questions that form all but one of the eight chapter titles. These include: ‘Why Has Jamaica Trailed Barbados on the Path to Sustained Growth?” and ‘Why is Democratic Jamaica So Violent?’ Indeed, these two questions are so significant, he devotes the first half of the book to them.”