Category: Cultural Diversity / Vulnerable Populations
This study aims to determine if internalized racism serves as a mediator for the relationship between ethnic identity and perceived racism in African-American young adults. Existing research has suggested that internal factors (such as strength of ethnic identity and internalized racism) are better predictors of reported minority experiences of racism than external factors (such as campus climate or perceived acceptance of diversity) (Hsiao, & Wittig, 2008; Whitehead, Ainsworth, Wittig, & Gadino, 2009; Simmons, Wittig, & Grant, 2010). In addition, internalized and perceived racism have been found to be inversely related to ethnic identity in Latina/o undergraduates (Hipolito-Delgado, 2016), strong ethnic identity was related to less perceived diversity acceptance in African Americans (but not Latinas/os or Asian Americans) (Maton, Wimms, Grant, Wittig, Rogers, & Vasquez, 2011), and weak ethnic identity was found to be related to decreased perceived discrimination among multiracial Black individuals (Snyder, 2016). More specifically, it appears that current literature suggests that the strength of the relationship between minority ethnic identity and perceived levels of racism is linked to the person’s level of internalized racism. To assess this hypothesis, the current study proposed a comprehensive model in which internalized racism mediated the relationship between ethnic identity and perceived racism in a sample of self-identified Black/African-American students attending a Southern university. Given that ethnic identity was measured based on the minority identity development model by Atkinson, Morten, and Sue (1993), the obtained data was analyzed using four similar mediation models that addressed each of its four stages. Results indicated that experiencing the Conformity stage of minority development was a predictor of internalized racism, b = 0.24, t(96) = 4.35, p < .001. Similarly, being at the Dissonance stage was a predictor of both internalized racism, b = 0.28, t(96) = 4.17, p < .001 and perceived racism, b = 0.31, t(96) = 2.58, p < .05. The other two stages of minority development (immersion/resistance and internalization) were not found to be predictors of either internalized or perceived racism. In addition, none of the models were found to be statistically significant. This preliminary research seems to suggest that, contrary to the initial hypothesis, having a weak ethnic identity seems to be an effective predictor of both internalized and perceived racism in young Black/African-American students. Further, these results appear to challenge previous literature by reflecting the unique composition of the student body at this Southern university and addressing potential changes in societal racial dynamics linked to the current political climate.
Doctoral Graduate Student of Clinical Psychology
University of Mississippi