This study examined immigrant minority students' perceptions of race relations and of the chances for social mobility in the United States (U.S.) using cohort samples of West Indian (N=173) and Haitian (N=191) students. The Students' responses collected during the 6th and 7th, 8th and 9th grades were analyzed to determine whether perceptions of racial mistrust, teacher derogation and social mobility varied depending on the student's length of stay in the U.S. or self-concept. Quantitative methodology was applied to data extrapolated from a larger epidemiological longitudinal study consisting of 7, 386 middle school students in Miami (Vega and Gil, 1998).
Results show that West Indian and Haitian students' perceptions of racial mistrust, teacher derogation and social mobility were associated more with student's self-concept than length of stay. Students with more favorable self-concepts reported greater optimism toward social mobility than those with less favorable self-concepts. Results also indicate that in the context of parental education and SES that racial mistrust is the strongest predictor of these students' level of optimism towards social mobility.