Tue. Aug 4th, 2020

A Literature Review on Racial Prejudice Introduction Racism

6 min read

A Literature Review on Racial Prejudice Introduction Racism is the ideology of racial inferiority/superiority at the individual, cultural, or institutional level that influences the perceptions and behavior of members of different racial groups towards others (Pieterse et al., 2011; Hoyt Jr., 2012).
Research on the issue of racial prejudice has led to the association of perceived racism with poor psychological well being and psychological stress. Racism is an important concern in the present society due to the current prevalence of fatal violence against African Americans on the streets and even in church.
It raises questions on the true incidence and impact of racial prejudice in the United States; whether racism truly is “dead” or it has taken a new form (Bonilla-Silva, 2015). Literature selection inclusion criteria for works quoted in this paper entailed peer-reviewed articles written in the last decade relating to issues of racial prejudice and its impact – psychological and social.
This paper reviews research and theory related to the subject matter of racial discrimination and its impact on the psychological wellbeing of victims, as well as presents opposing viewpoints from the mainstream perspective presented.
Racism is a prevalent socio-economic concern with psychological impact on the victims; the institution of racism still thrives at different levels of the American society with African-Americans being the most affected group.
Socio-Economic Standpoint of Racism Racism is often coupled with discrimination, which Pieterse et al., 2011 defines as unfair treatment in form of negative behavior and action intended for people of marginal social status.
According to Bonilla-Silva (2015), there is a particular psychology involved in racism, such as one particular race is inferior or superior to another but it is inherently about the material reality of a particular group.
When actors of a particular racial group are advantaged in terms of political, social, and economic placement in society, then such a group develops practices and views which promote the racial status quo while those at the other end of the spectrum challenge it (Bonilla-Silva, 2015).
The socio-economic history of African-Americans in the United States illustrates a position of disadvantage with regard to the racial status quo. Bonilla-Silva (2015) equates racial ideology with prejudice and proposes that actors choose behavior that is in their best interest and in this post-Civil Rights era in the United States, racism has taken a new form as a subtle and institutionalized mechanism.
Despite the diverse arguments over the incidence of racism in the present society, the socioeconomic effects of racism are tangible and affect numerous individuals especially with regard to seeking healthcare and psychological counseling.
Disadvantaged minority groups in the United States are considerably poor than their white counterparts. This translates into differentials in health status, access to healthcare, and provider discrimination; racial prejudice can affect the general physical and mental wellbeing of an individual due to prejudice by healthcare officials.
Similarly, in schools and other social institutions targets of racism are unable to receive adequate and necessary provisions to enhance their socio-economic standing (Bonilla-Silva, 2015; Carter 2007). Different literature focus on one area of impact of racism however a holistic view is necessary to accurately evaluate the incidence and impact of racism.
Psychological Impact of Racism Research indicates a link between racism and psychological degeneration in the form of anxiety and certain mental disorders (Carter, 2007). Racism can differ in form of subtle to obvious expressions.
Racial micro-aggressions are a subtle form of racism and include insults and non-verbal exchanges like avoidance in public areas. Racial stressors may arise from frequently facing such experiences as a result of loss of mental resources in attempts to decipher oppressors’ intentions.
Continued exposure to racial micro-aggressions, as well as hate crimes leads to mental agony for the targeted in the form of anxiety, living in chronic fear of a reoccurrence, and in some cases even paranoia.
Such mental anguish overtime can result in PTSD in case of further trauma resulting from subsequent stressful events (Carter, 2007). A study by C’de Baca, Castillo, & Qualls (2012) found that African American veterans’ scores on paranoia and persecution measures were higher indicating maladaptive responses to racism.
National-wide studies have found a correlation between racism and higher rates of PTSD amongst African Americans of 9.1% and Whites – 6.8% despite the former having a decreased risk for a majority of anxiety disorders.
This can be credited to the high rates of discrimination against African Americans at 81% in comparison to 11% for Non-Hispanic Whites (Cokley, Hall-Clark, & Hicks, 2011). African Americans are perceived to be more pessimistic on their views of the world in comparison to their white counterparts due to continued expressions of racism against this community.
Opposing Viewpoint Racial prejudice is characterized by racial discrimination that affects the socio-economic status of and individual and racial-related stress which results in psychological problems. However, some people consider the development of the oppressed racial group as reverse racism.
The perspective of anti-White bias has become increasingly prevalent in the wake of recent progress in cultural and political scenes with regard to increased racial inclusion that suggested the commencement of a post racial era in the United States (Norton & Sommers, 2011).
The assumption that the current American society is “post racial” is flawed despite the suggestion that Whites are currently the main victims of discrimination. Norton & Sommers (2011) suggest that decline in racism against African-Americans is not linked to augmented discrimination against the White population of the United States.
There is significant evidence that African Americans still face considerable racial prejudice by different metrics it is thus unreasonable to draw attention away from their plight. Theoretical Models There are a number of theoretical models that have been used in explicating the impact or racial prejudice.
The transactional model of stress is commonly referred to in expressing the stress due to experiences of racial prejudice as a causal factor for the lack of psychological wellbeing and social status.
Pieterse et al. (2011) found that perceived racism can be linked to psychological stress using the random-effects model. This model is influenced by a number of factors, such as rate of recurrence and evaluation of racial encounters.
Under evaluation, the main method involved is the interview or self-report measure. Other commonly employed measures evident in the literature include Index of Race-Related Stress (IRRs), Everyday Discrimination Scale, and the Racism and Life Experiences Scales (RaLES) (Pieterse et al.
(2011); Cokley, Hall-Clark, & Hicks, (2011). In many cases these scales rely on the information given by victims this can present a challenge in assessing the reliability and validity of the information.
Gaps in Literature and Research Controlling for general life stress when determining the racial stress an individual has experienced is a major limitation in a number of the studies (Pieterse et al., 2011). This is especially alarming as in some cases controlling for general stress resulted in negative outcomes linking racial prejudice to psychological problems while in other the effects diminished considerably (Pieterse et al., 2011). There is need for further studies to explore the specific overlap between the two types of stress. Racism stress measures should be refined in order to improve the level of confidence in the findings.
Future Action Racism is existent in the United States and other countries globally. The effects of racism are extensive and affect different areas of an individual’s life specifically their psychological wellbeing. To counteract the negative implications of racial-related stress, psychology professionals, as well as social workers need to direct special focus of psychotherapy and counseling in helping victims of racial oppression. By developing well-adapted coping mechanisms and empowerment strategies, individuals can alleviate racial-related stress and avoid mental disorders such as depression and PTSD (Piertse et al., 2011). To combat the prevalence of racism in the American society as a whole, counselors should be trained on an antiracism activism which promotes the aspect of social justice in psychology (Piertse et al., 2011; Bonilla-Silva, 2015).
Conclusion Racial discrimination leads to poor socio-economic status of the targeted which affects their capacity to seek psychological treatment when affected by mental disorders caused by racial-related stress. Racial prejudice impacts the mental health of an individual as repeated exposure to micro-aggression and racial-based violence can lead to development of psychological disorders such as anxiety, paranoia, depression, and even PTSD.
The link between racial-related stress and psychological problems is a common area of recent research in psychology however many studies fail to account for the effect of general life stress in their models.
Racism plays a significant role in the psychological health of African Americans to counter this trend it is necessary to introduce a standard intake protocol that takes into account racism history for a successful psychotherapeutic intervention.
Psychologists, counselors, and social workers are vital in the fight against racism as they are in a unique position to offer victims specialized intervention as well as join current efforts of antiracism activism.
In summary, racial prejudice not only affects the socio-economic wellbeing of individuals and groups but also their psychological wellbeing. Racism is deep-seated in the American society and will only be “dead” if it is replaced with a new era of cultural tolerance and acceptance.

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