Rooted in Relationships

Just as a system of roots supports and nourishes trees as they develop and grow, nurturing relationships with adults provide a foundation for young pe…
Aug 10th, 2022 | 45:34

Episode 2.7 - Andrea Hunter - Shifting the paradigm

Families are unique and the relationships that form among young people and their family is a rich tapestry of experiences. These relationships are influenced by what Dr. Andrea Hunter describes as a, “complex web of social relationships and networks that fold across multiple contexts and generations.” On this episode of Rooted in Relationships, we hear from Dr. Hunter, a professor of human development and family studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Dr. Hunter is particularly interested in the relationships formed among Black and African-American families and her work is shifting the paradigm in how social capital is perceived and the important role it plays in the development of relationships and wellbeing within the Black and African American community.

Podcast: Rooted in Relationships

Episode: 2.7 - Andrea Hunter - Shifting the Paradigm


Welcome to the Rooted in Relationships podcast, where we talk with renowned researchers and experts to explore how connections to resources, relationships and social networks provide the key conditions that all young people need to thrive. Continuing on season two of the podcast, Search Institute CEO Ben Houltberg introduces Dr. Kent Pekel, education leader and former CEO of Search Institute, and guide for this season’s interviews. Today, Kent has a discussion with Dr. Andrea Hunter, a Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Dr. Hunter is particularly interested in the relationships formed among black and African American families. Her work is shifting the paradigm in how social capital is perceived, and the important role it plays in the development of relationships and well-being within the black and African American community.

To start off, Dr. Hunter describes her mission, and what old questions and interpretations she wants to reframe through her work.  She shares her interests in the intellectual traditions of black family studies including sociology of knowledge and how it is informed by race. The questions in her field are centered around how black and African American families function, gender, implications of parenting, black culture and identity, and the evolution of African American family life in culture.

Dr. Hunter discusses her conclusions from her work, which include social relationships. She shares how she studies not how people ought to live, but how they are truly living their lives. She can see patterns that black culture transcends into family life. Dr. Hunter’s work hasn’t personally been translational, but those paradigms live in the real world. She had planned to be a clinician, but read the literature on African American families but did not recognize them. She wanted to go tell her stories because she saw the importance of social policy framed around race. She is hopeful that her work will change the shift in the way we think about American family life.

Kent explains how The Search Institute has received funding on developmental relationships for people of color, and how they will use her work as a guide post. Dr. Hunter then talks about her podcast called “A Colored Girl Speaks.” She started this podcast because she wanted to reconcile her voice and tell stories in a different kind of way. Then, both examine how history is psychologically present and how children are interpreting historical moments around race, and using that to reveal to them who they are. Dr. Hunter shares advice for adults to help young people by allowing children to have conversations about their grief and struggle, and then helping them find faith and hope in moving forward.

In addition, Dr. Hunter discusses her project on manhood and masculinity, and how young men have fear around their relationships, spirituality and future. She said these young men treated their manhood like a puzzle and spent time observing and educating themselves on what being a man means to them. Dr. Hunter went into the project thinking it would be a cultural project, but instead found that it’s not abstract, but all based on stories and experiences. The urban black youth she worked with told the stories of their lives and entrusted her with that gift.

In terms of social capital, Dr. Hunter looked at mothers, familial and community relationships. She discovered that their community was based on social capital, and that communal relationships lead to self-efficacy. Dr. Hunter also discussed how African American parents look for models and observe how people hold values in their homes. To conclude, Dr. Hunter hopes that we can learn that we are deeply connected in our shared humanity in a global community, and that going forward, we can have a sense of urgency and belief that we can make things right.



0:35 - Ben Houltberg introduces himself, Kent Pekel and today’s episode.

1:46 - Kent introduces today’s guest, Dr. Andrea Hunter.

3:27 - Reframing old questions and interpretations.

7:08 - Conclusions on relationships. 

12:17 - Dr. Hunter’s work in practice.

15:50 - Dr. Hunter’s podcast, “A Colored Girl Speaks.” 

17:53 - Motivation to start the podcast. 

22:45 - Advice for adults to help young people. 

27:05 - Study on manhood and masculinity. 

33:45 - Social capital.

41:48 - What have we learned from the pandemic?


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