Abstract: This mixed-method study used a grounded theory approach to explore the meanings underlying the importance that adolescents attach to their racial-ethnic identities. The sample consisted of 923 9th- to 12th-grade students from Black, Latino, Asian, and multiracial backgrounds. Thematic findings identified a broad range of explanations for adolescents' racial-ethnic centrality, ranging from pride and cultural connection to ambivalence and colorblind attitudes. While racial-ethnic groups differed in reported levels of racial-ethnic centrality, few group differences were identified in participants' thematic explanations, with the exception of racial-ethnic and gender differences for Positive Regard and Disengagement. These findings highlight the diversity of meanings that adolescents attribute to their racial-ethnic centrality as well as the many commonalities among adolescents across gender and racial-ethnic groups.