Tag Archives: racial bias

We Achieve What We Believe: How to Encourage African American Students to Believe in Their Academic Abilities

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This post continues our blog series regarding racial/ethnic socialization practices, programs, and approaches. APA is putting together a clearinghouse of resources to help parents/caregivers to protect youth of color and themselves from the psychological damage of discrimination and racism. For more information regarding APA’s new initiative and to provide feedback as we continue to engage in this series, please visit: www.apa.org/pi/res

 

By Giselle Hendy (Special Project Coordinator, APA’s Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs)

For too long educational stakeholders including researchers, administrators, teachers, parents and even students placed value in the notion that African American students have less interest and capacity in education. What is most troubling is that African American students may themselves hold these beliefs.  This could lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy, so to speak, contributing to achievement at standards below actual capabilities.  Parents and teachers must be sure that they are instilling positive beliefs around African American students and high levels of academic achievement.

Many years ago, I worked as a third-grade teacher. One of my students, Anya*, was truly a model for all; very helpful, obedient, and always on task. Anya earned straight A’s across subjects, with the exception of math. I couldn’t understand her persistent low scores in math, so, I talked to Anya and her grandmother about this anomaly.  The response I received and the lack of reaction from grandma was absolutely shocking.

Anya told me “I just can’t do math. Black women aren’t good at math.” Appalled, I replied “Who told you that?”   Anya replied, “My mama.”

Consciousness is awareness of reality within the limitations of our minds.”

Or, how about this one “Thoughts become things.”

Or, the classic “What one believes one can achieve.”

 

However cliché these anecdotes may seem, the underlying message is poignant: we are only limited by what we believe we cannot do. Anya’s mom had the best of intentions for her daughter. She did not realize how her words, probably made in passing, had such a profound effect on Anya’s beliefs about her ability and her academic performance.  The beliefs we hold have power over our behaviors.  Cognitive biases influence our interpretation of and reactions to experiences in our lives.  It is imperative that African American youth are encouraged to develop a positive academic identity, fostering the belief that they can achieve at high levels in school.

 

So, what can we do about it?

There is much to be done at every level, from a policy level down to the social interactions between educational stakeholders.  Each of us must be mindful of what our foundational beliefs are regarding African-Americans and academic success.  Whether we mean to or not, our implicit beliefs about students influence the ways in which we interact with them and ultimately how students feel about school and their place in it.

 

  1. Assess your personal attitudes and beliefs. We don’t’ always understand how deep our beliefs may go. Sometimes our behavior may even surprise us. In the same vein, we may not always directly, or verbally express our beliefs; they are oftentimes transmitted through our actions. For this reason, it is important to assess our own beliefs, and examine how those beliefs can be translated to students through our actions. Watch this video on Understanding your Racial Biases, then imagine how your own biases around race may have affected the youth you interact with in positive or negative ways.
  2. Promote a narrative of African American intellectual excellence. Provide African American youth with a counternarrative for their place in education. Beyond Black history month, parents and teacher should seek and provide examples of intellectual excellence displayed by African Americans nationally and globally, currently and historically. The more information students have on examples of other African Americans, people who look like them, exceeding standards for education, the less they will be influenced by negative messages about what they can achieve.
  3. Intelligence and ability are malleable. Being smart is not a fixed trait. Oftentimes we send messages that only some people can do very well in school. The incremental theory of intelligence reveals that intelligence and ability can be improved with persistence and hard work (Blackwell, Trzesniewski, & Dweck, 2007). If students believe their efforts can improve their outcomes, they are likely to persist and be more engaged in school. Encourage your students to have patience and keep trying to see better results.
  4. Provide positive socialization messages with regards to race. It is important to prepare our students for the inequities they may face in society. However, research has shown that preparation for bias messages can have a negative effect on academic outcomes (Howard & Bowman, 1985). More positive messages regarding race can lead to improved academic outcomes for African American students. Such messages celebrate the richness of the culture, or promote notions of basic equality among people. Students who are positively socialized around their culture tend to do better in school.

I made a few of these points during a long discussion with my former student Anya and her grandmother. With some additional tutoring through their church, Anya brought an F to an A in math by the end of the school year.  I recently ran into Anya’s grandmother, and she explained to me how influential that one social exchange was to her family.  The younger grandchildren have not received the same messages about Black women, education and ability as their older sister.  Per grandma, Anya continues to thrive academically, and socially as she makes plans for college!

*The student’s name has been changed to preserve confidentiality.

 

References:

Blackwell, L.S., Trzesniewski, K.H., & Dweck, C.S. (2007). Implicit theories of intelligence predict achievement across adolescent transition: A longitudinal study and an intervention. Child Development, 78(1), 246-263.

Bowman, P.J., & Howard, C. (1985). Race-related socialization, motivation, and academic achievement: A study of Black youths in three-generation families. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 24(2), 134-141.

 

Biography:

Giselle Hendy is the special project coordinator for APA’s Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs. She is also a professor at Baltimore City Community College and a doctoral student in developmental psychology at Howard University under the supervision of Dr. A. Wade Boykin.  Ms. Hendy focuses her research efforts on improving academic outcomes for African American youth through the incorporation of student cultural resources during instructional pursuits.

Jury Bias: Can You Argue the Facts When Race Enters the Mix?

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By Silvia L. Mazzula, PhD (Asst. Professor of Psychology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY)

I’m sure you’ve heard it – only “relevant” facts should be considered in the courtroom. After all, it’s the foundation of the United States’ justice system to create a just and fair trial. Over the past several months, my Twitter and Facebook newsfeeds have overflowed with posts about race and the justice system following grand jury rulings to not indict in the cases involving police killings of unarmed Black men. Some say “facts are facts.”  Others say there was something more.

Maybe… there was. Research tells us that facts not “relevant” to a given case impact jurors’ decisions – these are called extralegal factors and range from personal characteristics like race or gender to how a juror sees others. Scientific data show, for example, Blacks are treated the worst in criminal and civil cases. Studies also show jurors’ biases about race may have something to do with their decisions –that is, their verdict.  Yet, researchers don’t quite agree. For example, some find better outcomes if the jury is made up of people of the same race as the defendant, while others don’t find these racial biases. An emerging area of study on race salience says decisions may be related to how “obvious” racial issues are in trials, not necessarily about race of jurors.

But this work is somewhat limited too.

  • First, studies typically look at socio-demographic race – that is, what someone answers when they are asked for their race.
  • Second, many focus on White jurors’ racial bias, so they don’t know much about jurors of different racial groups.
  • Third, and more importantly, we know very little about what jurors “think” of themselves as racial beings and how this “thinking” impacts their decisions.

People’s subconscious ideas and prejudices about social-demographic race are referred to as racial identity attitudes. It is this “thinking” that impacts how people make sense of the world – regardless of how they answer that “what is your race?” question. For example, you can ask me what race I am, but my answer won’t tell you whether I am racist or not.

How does it enter the courtroom?

We did a study with 210 mock jurors who were African American, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, or non-Hispanic White (henceforth, White). Participants read a case of workplace discrimination and asked whether the plaintiff (African American) had been discriminated by their employer (no race information provided) and if the facts supported that the plaintiff had suffered emotional distress. We included obvious racial overtones in the case (e.g., plaintiff alleged employer used derogatory racial terms such as “coon” or “spook”).

Most participants found the plaintiff was discriminated and suffered emotional distress. However, it depended on “who” and their “thoughts” about race.

We looked at decisions by juror’s socio-demographic race (that is, the “what is your race?” question):

  • Did the facts support a hostile work environment?

African-American, Hispanic and White jurors said yes. Whites represented the highest proportion. Asian Americans did not agree.

  • Did the facts support the plaintiff suffered emotional distress?

African-American and Asian-American jurors said yes. White mock jurors were the highest proportion of those who did not agree.

White jurors only supported a hostile work environment. Research on race salience suggests Whites may want to appear impartial (that is, not bias) when there are obvious racial overtones in a case.  Our findings seem to support this notion somewhat since they didn’t support both decisions.  Based on a common perception that race is much more important for racial/ethnic minorities, we expected people of color to support the plaintiff in both decisions. However, we found racial bias by minority racial/ethnic groups as well. This is important because most research on jury decisions tends to focus on unequal treatment of Blacks only by Whites.

 

We also looked at what jurors “think” about race (i.e., their racial identity attitudes) and found three attitudes related to their decisions – don’t forget these are often out of people’s awareness. If you look at the graph, we show what research says is the progression of people’s attitudes with respect to race.

blog-jury-bias-infographic

ATTITUDE… in a sentence General Theme FINDINGS:        Hostile Work Environment FINDINGS: Emotional Distress
We are all humans
  • Color-blind mentality
  • Race is not important
  • Denial that racism exists
White – Yes

African-American -less likely to support it

White – Yes
I’m all about my group
  • Idealizing own racial group
  • Rejection of other racial groups
White, Non-Hispanic – less likely to support it Asian-American – Yes

Hispanic – Yes

I accept and value me and others
  • Valuing oneself, and others, as racial beings
  • Resolved conflict related to racial differences
African-American -less likely to support it  

“We are all humans”: We found attitudes that negate the importance of race in people’s lives resulted in African-Americans’ finding that experiences of discrimination are irrelevant or unimportant facts of a case. These attitudes are driven by internalized beliefs about the inferiority of people of color. Therefore, its possible they may have thought the plaintiff deserved the consequences — even being called blatant derogatory terms.  For White jurors, on the other hand, these attitudes resulted in supporting both decisions.  It is possible that these attitudes may help them see that a Black person was harmed by a hostile work environment, whether or not it had anything to do specifically with race.

“I’m all about my ‘racial/cultural’ group”: For people of color, these attitudes sometimes include connecting more with other racial/ethnic minorities and can increase awareness of issues of race. Therefore, it’s possible that Hispanic and Asian-American jurors were more sensitive to see potential for emotional harm – even though they did not think it was a hostile work environment. For White jurors, these attitudes reflect the first step toward questioning notions of supremacy. Maybe immersing themselves in their racial group and beginning the process of questioning supremacy prevented them from seeing that experiences of racial discrimination were relevant or that they can cause emotional distress.

 

“I accept and value me, and others”: These attitudes are the most mature of racial identity beliefs. They reflect a person who has come to integrate race and culture into who they are as people, resolved conflict related to racial differences, and able to value themselves as racial beings. We found African-American jurors were less likely to support there was discrimination. It’s possible that they judged the facts of the case based on its merits without including subconscious prejudices related to race.

 

Take away:

First, most research neglects to examine racial bias of racial/ethnic minority groups. We, however, found racial bias was present among minority jurors as well. Second, looking at the sociodemographic race of jurors (e.g., the “what is your race?” question) doesn’t really tap into racial biases or attitudes. Had we only looked at sociodemographic race, we would not have seen the wide range of decisions within each racial/ethnic group. In other words – race as a social demographic factor would not identify biased jurors.

 

It seems that decisions from jurors are based on more than just facts.  This finding calls for urgent attention from all of us – it would mean a fair and just criminal justice system is somewhat of a myth.  So what do we do?

 

What the justice system can do:

Include psychological measures of racial identity “attitudes” to determine juror bias – and use these with all racial groups not just Whites. Theories on racism show people tend to present themselves as fair. So, simply asking jurors if they think they will be unbiased, as with typical legal strategies used to identify racial bias, such as challenge for cause or voir dire, – doesn’t necessarily identify those who may or may not be.

 

What you can do personally:

 The truth is that racism is everywhere – we all, in one way or another, grew up learning about the ‘good’ vs. the ‘bad’ racial groups. It is our responsibility as people to change the way we have been taught to think about race so that our justice system really is fair and just, and our children can have a better and more just future! Here are some ideas:

 

1. STOP:

Not all people who look or identify as White are racist. Not all people who identify as a racial/ethnic minority are anti-racist. We need to stop looking at racism as something based on how people look or answer the “what race are you?” question.

2. UNITE:

Until we stop seeing race as an issue of Whites against Blacks, or all people of color, and start looking at the meaning of race and how we have all been socialized within systems that value whiteness, we cannot move forward.

3. SUPPORT:

We need to support discussions about the “meaning of race”. It takes courage to talk about the privileges we’ve been given just because of “how we look”. Let’s support these conversations.

4. SURROUND:

Talking about race, whether you are “perceived to be” the oppressor or the oppressed is taxing to our emotional wellbeing. I, for example, have been feeling so many different emotions with all the current attention to issues of racism in the media. If I, as someone who studies, works and writes about race needs somewhere to talk about my feelings, you may too. It’s ok. And it’s needed!

 

We want to hear from you – Tell us in the comments:

  1. How do you work to learn about your biases?
  2. How do you invite others to have these difficult talks?

 

References:

To read original study:  Carter, R.T. & Mazzula, S.L. (2013). Race and racial identity status attitudes: Mock-juror decision-making in race discrimination cases. Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice, 11(3), 196-217.

Carter, R.T., Mazzula, S. L., Victoria, R., Vazquez, R., Hall, S., et al. (2013). Initial Development of the Race-Based Traumatic Stress Symptom Scale: Assessing the Emotional Impact of Racism. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 5(1), 1-9.

Helms, J.E. (1990). Black and White racial identity attitudes: Theory, research, and practice.  Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Nadal, K., Mazzula, S.L., Rivera, D.R. & Fujii-Doe, W. (2014). Racial Microaggressions and Latina/o Americans: An Analysis of Nativity, Gender, and Ethnicity. Journal of Latina/o Psychology, 2(2), 67-78. doi: 10.1037/lat0000013

Sommers, S. R., & Ellsworth, P. C. (2009).  “Race salience” in juror decision-making: Misconceptions, clarifications, and unanswered questions.  Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 27, 599-609.

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2007). http://www.eeoc.gov

 

Biography:

Dr. Mazzula is also the Executive Director of the Latina Researchers Network and former President of the Latino Psychological Association of New Jersey. Check out Dr. Mazzula’s previous blog post on how microaggressions affect the Latino community.

Image source: iStockPhoto.comVALIGN=TOP


Filed under: Criminal and Juvenile Justice, Culture, Ethnicity and Race Tagged: bias, jury bias, race salience, racial bias, racial identity

“But Daddy, Why Was He Shot?”: How to Talk to Children about Race Today

Facts of Life

This is the first in a series of blog posts that the American Psychological Association (APA) will publish regarding racial/ethnic socialization practices, programs, and approaches. APA is putting together a clearinghouse of resources to help parents/caregivers to protect youth of color and themselves from the psychological damage of discrimination and racism. For more information regarding APA’s new initiative and to provide feedback as we continue to engage in this series, please visit: www.apa.org/pi/res

 

By Riana Anderson, PhD (Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Pennsylvania)

 

Whenever there is news of a criminal’s non-indictment for violence committed against Black people, I run to Facebook to assess the pulse of my friends and colleagues. It’s a phenomenon that started the day after George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the murder of Trayvon Martin. My newsfeed was ablaze with the desperate, despondent, and disastrous beliefs of current and hopeful parents.

 

“It almost seems irresponsible now to have and raise a child of color in this country.”

“Deeply saddened. Disappointed. What is the message for my sons, cousins…don’t go outside?”

“…I love you and I am scared as you guys get older.”

 

All parents are concerned for their children’s safety, but parents of color shoulder a particularly challenging burden raising children in a racially charged society. In particular, the messages and behaviors that parents express to their children regarding race are known as Racial/Ethnic Socialization (RES). Much has been written on RES —formal review articles, blogs, more blogs, and even more blogs—but at a time when racial conflict is especially visible via social and mass media, caregivers may be wondering what is best to say to children of color.

 

Although no magic formula exists for helping children of color get through the racial dynamics of our society, here are a few things that research tells us are useful:

 

1. Talking is both said and unsaid

You may believe that you have said all the things you want to say to your child, especially the things the research indicates most parents of color say to their children—cultural socialization (or pride), preparation for bias, promotion of distrust, and equality—but have you also noticed what you are not saying to them? If the TV is on and you are full of emotion, do you explain to your child what it is that is making you so scared and frustrated? RES is not just the explicit sharing of messages, it is also implicit—what we don’t say is just as important as what we do say. This is true for actions too – what we do and don’t do both provide models for our children. Children are always watching (and parents thought they had eyes in the back of their head!), so be mindful of what they see and how you explain your actions.

 

2. You have to start somewhere

Sometimes, parents can be so paralyzed by our own frustrations or fears that it is challenging to talk to our children about race. Some parents may even feel like bringing up race can add to the anxiety that our children feel about racial experiences. On the contrary, the majority of research shows that there are some great benefits to instilling pride and preparing both children and adolescents of color for the bias they will face. Children of color often have better psychological, physiological, and academic outcomes when parents use some combination of pride and preparation. We think of it this way – if a flight attendant prepares passengers for plane crashes, wouldn’t it be just as logical for parents to prepare children for the sting of discriminatory experiences that the majority of Black people report facing throughout their lifetime?

 

3. Do you understand your own stress?

Just as my peers indicated in their Facebook posts several years ago, a very real fear may exist in communicating with our children about racial encounters. Oftentimes, parents have unresolved stress and trauma ourselves, so asking us to provide assistance for our children can be challenging. Prior to talking to your children, it may be useful to talk to your partner, parent, friend, or therapist about how you feel.

If we as parents are not attuned to our feelings on racial matters, we may be unconsciously communicating our discomfort to our children. Indeed, children who receive more frequent messages of distrust (which can be a generalization from a personal or communicated experience) and/or equality (which may just be avoidance of racial topics for some parents) have less consistent well-being outcomes relative to their peers who receive pride and preparatory messages. Although it is important to start somewhere with our children, we may have to start with ourselves first.

 

Since very young children can detect differences in race and start to make meaning of those differences, it is important for caregivers to be prepared to have open and honest dialogue about the history, present-day practices, and future hopes for race in our society.

 

To learn more about APA’s new initiative on racial and ethnic socialization (RES), please visit http://www.apa.org/pi/res and watch the video below:

 

Questions for you to consider:

  • What are my personal beliefs about racism and discrimination today?
  • How is my child being impacted by the racial climate around him/her?
  • In what ways am I addressing both my and my child’s concerns about race?
  • What resources would help me to feel comfortable and confident in addressing race issue with my child?

 

Don’t miss our Twitter chat!

Join the conversation! APA will cohost a Twitter chat (#kidstalkrace) on the benefits of parents having healthy conversations on race with kids on July 28, 2017 from 4 to 5 PM (ET): http://vite.io/kidstalkrace

Resilience _KidsTalkRace Flyer 2.png

 

Biography:

 

Riana Anderson, PhD, is a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in the Applied Psychology and Human Development Division (APHD). Her current fellowship is with Dr. Howard Stevenson in the Racial Empowerment Collaborative (REC), which centers on cultural pride, coping and parenting, culturally specific parenting strategies, and other ways of reducing race-related stress. She received her doctorate in Clinical and Community Psychology at the University of Virginia and was a Clinical and Community Psychology Pre-doctoral Fellow at Yale University’s School of Medicine. Dr. Anderson graduated from the University of Michigan in 2006 with degrees in Psychology and Political Science. She then taught for 2 years with Teach For America in Atlanta, GA. She has also conducted community based participatory research at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD, and neuropsychological research at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Anderson aims to assist at-risk youth with practical applications of her research and clinical services, as well as through academic instruction and policy recommendations. She strives to improve the psychological outcomes for African American youth through expanded coping strategies, discovery and encouragement of alternative outcomes, culturally and contextually relevant parenting programs, and community building, participation, and collaboration. One of her goals is to create youth centers and interventions that support the mental and physical health— as well as educational goals—of African American youth in urban communities.


Filed under: Children and Youth, Culture, Ethnicity and Race Tagged: children's mental health, ethnicity, parenting, parenting tips, race, racial bias, racial discrimination, racial identity, racism, resilience

Racial Trauma is Real: The Impact of Police Shootings on African Americans

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By Erlanger A. Turner, PhD (Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Houston-Downtown) & Jasmine Richardson

There have been many changes within the criminal justice system as a means to deter crime and to keep citizens safe. However, research demonstrates that often times men of color are treated harshly which leads to negative perceptions of police officers. The recent shootings in Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights, and Dallas have exposed many individuals and their families to incidents of police brutality that reminds us that as a society work needs to be done to improve police and community relations.

In light of these recent events, many people have witnessed these traumatic incidents through social media or participation in marches in their cities. The violence witnessed towards people of color from police continues to damage perceptions of law enforcement and further stereotype people of color negatively. In a study published in the American Journal of Public Health (Geller, Fagan, Tyler, & Link, 2014), the authors reported that 85% of the participants reported being stopped at least once in their lifetime and 78% had no history of criminal activity. What is more concerning is that the study also found that those who reported more intrusive police contact experienced increased trauma and anxiety symptoms. Furthermore, those who reported fair treatment during encounters with law enforcement had fewer symptoms of PTSD and anxiety.

 

What is Racial Trauma?

In addition to the mental health symptoms of individuals who have encounters with law enforcement, those who witness these events directly or indirectly may also be impacted negatively. In an attempt to capture how racism and discrimination negatively impacts the physical and mental health of people of color, many scholars have coined the term “racial trauma” or race-based traumatic stress. Racial trauma may result from racial harassment, witnessing racial violence, or experiencing institutional racism (Bryant-Davis, & Ocampo, 2006; Comas-Díaz, 2016). The trauma may result in experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, feelings of humiliation, poor concentration, or irritability.

 

Effects of Racial Trauma on Communities of Color

Decades of research have noted the impact of discrimination and racism on the psychological health of communities of color (e.g., Bryant-Davis & Ocampo, 2006; Carter & Forsyth, 2009; Comas-Díaz, 2016). Although not everyone who experiences racism and discrimination will develop symptoms of race-based trauma, repeated exposure may lead to the following. According to a report on The Impact of Racial Trauma on African Americans, Dr. Walter Smith notes the following effects of racial trauma:

Increased vigilance and suspicion – Suspicion of social institutions (schools, agencies, government), avoiding eye contact, only trusting persons within our social and family relationship networks

Increased sensitivity to threat – Defensive postures, avoiding new situations, heightened sensitivity to being disrespected and shamed, and avoid taking risks

Increased psychological and physiological symptoms – Unresolved traumas increase chronic stress and decrease immune system functioning, shift brains to limbic system dominance, increase risks for depression and anxiety disorders, and disrupt child development and quality of emotional attachment in family and social relationships

Increased alcohol and drug usage – Drugs and alcohol are initially useful (real and perceived) in managing the pain and danger of unresolved traumas but become their own disease processes when dependency occurs

Increased aggression – Street gangs, domestic violence, defiant behavior, and appearing tough and impenetrable are ways of coping with danger by attempting to control our physical and social environment

Narrowing sense of time – Persons living in a chronic state of danger do not develop a sense of future; do not have long-term goals, and frequently view dying as an expected outcome

 

Coping with Racial Trauma

Racial trauma or race-based trauma often goes unnoticed. These hidden wounds that adults and youth of color experience are worn like invisible weights. Hardy (2013) provides the following eight steps to heal after experiencing racial injustices in our community.

  1. Affirmation and Acknowledgement: This involves professionals helping the individual to develop a sense of understanding acceptance of racial issues. This step is important because it opens the door for us to dialogue about issues related to race.
  2. Create Space for Race: Creating space allows an open dialogue with our communities about race. Hardy notes that we must take a proactive role to identify race as a significant variable and talk openly about experiences related to race.
  3. Racial Storytelling: Gives individuals an outlet to share personal experiences and think critically about events in their lives. This provides an opportunity to hear others voice how they have been treated differently due to their race and it helps expose hidden wounds through storytelling.
  4. Validation: Can be seen as a personalized tool used to counter devaluation. This provides confirmation of the individuals’ worth and their redeemable qualities.
  5. The Process of Naming: With the scarcity of research on the effects of racial trauma on mental health, there is of course no name as of yet making it a nameless condition. This in turn increases the doubt and uncertainty. By naming these experiences we give individuals a voice to speak on them and also recognize how they impact them. If we apply a mental health condition, individuals may experience symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  6. Externalize Devaluation: The aim for this step is to have people focus on increasing respect and recognizing that racial events do not lower their self-worth.
  7. Counteract Devaluation: This step uses a combination of psychological, emotional, and behavioral resources to build self-esteem and counter racial attacks. This helps prevent future kiss if dignity and sense of self.
  8. Rechanneling Rage: By rechanneling rage, individuals can learn to gain control of their emotions and not let emotions consume them. This is an important step because it empowers people to keep pushing forward after adversity. This may include taking steps to engage in activism or self-care strategies such as spending time with family.

 

Biographies:

Erlanger A. Turner, PhD, is a Clinical Psychologist and an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Dr. Turner’s research focuses on access to child mental health services, health inequity, help-seeking attitudes and behaviors, and cultural competency in clinical practice. He teaches courses at UHD in clinical psychology, multicultural psychology, and child psychopathology. Dr. Turner is also a blogger for The Race to Good Health. Dr. Turner is a member of the American Psychological Association and the Association of Black Psychologists. He has served in numerous leadership positions throughout APA and APA Divisions. He earned his B.S. in psychology from Louisiana State University and an M.S. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Texas A&M University. Dr. Turner is currently Chair-Elect for the APA Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest and he was recently appointment to the Behavioral Health National Project Advisory Committee for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health.

Jasmine Richardson, BS earned her psychology degree from the University of Houston- Downtown (UHD) and is a former research assistant at the UHD Race, Culture, and Mental Health Research Lab under the supervision of Dr. Turner.

Note: An earlier version of this blog was published on BlackDoctor.org

 

References:

Bryant-Davis, T., & Ocampo, C. (2006). A therapeutic approach to the treatment of racist-incident-based trauma. Journal of Emotional Abuse6(4), 1-22.

Carter, R. T., & Forsyth, J. M. (2009). A guide to the forensic assessment of race-based traumatic stress reactions. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Online37(1), 28-40.

Comas-Díaz, L. (2016). Racial trauma recovery: A race-informed therapeutic approach to racial wounds. In Alvarez, A.N. (Ed); Liang, C. T. H. (Ed); Neville, H. A. (Ed), The cost of racism for people of color: Contextualizing experiences of discrimination. Cultural, racial, and ethnic psychology book series (pp. 249-272). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association.

Geller, A., Fagan, J., Tyler, T., & Link, B. G. (2014). Aggressive policing and the mental health of young urban men. American Journal Of Public Health, 104(12), 2321-2327

Hardy, K. V. (2013). Healing the Hidden Wounds of Racial Trauma. Reclaiming Children And Youth, 22(1), 24-28.

Image source: Flickr user blogocram via Creative Commons


Filed under: Criminal and Juvenile Justice, Culture, Ethnicity and Race, Human Rights and Social Justice, Violence Tagged: coping, discrimination, mental health, policing, racial bias, racial discrimination, racial profiling, racial trauma, racism, stress, trauma

How to Talk to Our Kids about the Tragic Shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota and Dallas

Diverse kids holding hands

By Robin Gurwitch, PhD

Families around the country are coming together to talk about the officer-involved shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota, and the ambush of police officers in Dallas, Texas. These events come shortly after the violence in Orlando. In fact, it seems that acts of violence are in the news on a regular basis.

As a nation, we are trying to wrap our minds around what is taking place all around us. Protests related to police injustice, protests about gun violence, protests about tolerance, vigils for those killed in all of these events are happening in many communities across America.

In the aftermath of these events, we are also witnessing many acts of kindness. These have included hugs between protesters and police officers, hand-holding among all genders, races, and ages. Offering lemonade to those standing in the heat.

How do we begin to explain all of this to our children when we, as adults, are having our own difficulties with what is occurring?

First, we need to ask: What do children understand or believe about what they are seeing and hearing from the media, social media, and family?

It is important to include our children in these important conversations. Check in to see children what they are thinking or feeling. This will shape the talks. Feelings may include worries and anxieties to fears about safety and security. There are similarities and there are differences in the talks across families. Families of color are having to talk to their children about how to act should they be stopped by police officers. Is it fair that these discussions must still happen in 2016? Absolutely not.  The fact that this is still necessary is an example of the injustices many face daily.

All families should talk about diversity, the reality of racism and discrimination, and the importance of respect, tolerance, unity and justice.

These events, as horrific as they are, are opportunities for families to come together to discuss how to treat others. It is time for a frank discussion about realities in our society and equitable treatment of all who live in our country. This is a time to share values and beliefs, a time to share our wishes for the future. Research shows us that hate and prejudice are not ingrained—they are taught, they are learned. This is a time to turn the tide and teach our children about the kind of society we want for their future.

While events before and since Ferguson have spotlighted systemic injustices, it is important to also recognize the good done by the majority of police officers on a daily basis in communities around the country. It is important to note for children that as shots rang out in Dallas, police protected protesters and ran toward the sound in hopes of keeping people safe. Police and other first responders can be a resource of help. Families’ experiences may vary widely, so discussions will also vary. While not shying away from the realities of current events, be mindful of the age of children as you talk with them. We are at a long-overdue “tipping point” for improving relationships and trust in our communities. We can and should all be a part of this change.

The protests about police injustice and the attacks on officers are not an “either-or” issue, but are two important, interrelated conversations.

Following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, residents championed the importance of acts of kindness. We should discuss this with our children, too.

As children may be worried about safety and security issues, it is important to share with our children what communities are doing to keep everyone safe. It is also important to help children consider how they would like to show an act of kindness. This may be participating in a community event/vigil for healing. It may be writing a letter or creating a drawing for community first responders or other positive figures in the community; it may be helping a neighbor or a friend in some small way. Rather than tell our children how to act with kindness, let’s be role models by our own actions and words. Let’s include them in the conversation. Oftentimes the ideas of children, even the very young, and teens surprise and impress us! We all have heard the quote, “children are our future,” perhaps now, more than ever, we need to decide what kind of future this will be.

For more information and tips, check out the resources and articles below.

Related Resources:

 

Recent News Articles:

Biography:

Dr. Robin Gurwitch has been involved in understanding the impact of terrorism and disasters on children since the 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City, providing direct service, training, and conducting research. She is a member of the APA Disaster Resource Network, American Red Cross, and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. Dr. Gurwitch was recently appointed to the HHS National Advisory Committee on Children and Disasters.

 

 

 


Filed under: Children and Youth, Criminal and Juvenile Justice, Culture, Ethnicity and Race, Human Rights and Social Justice, Violence Tagged: Children, children's mental health, Dallas, difficult dialogues, excessive force, Louisiana, mass shootings, Minnesota, police brutality, police shootings, policing, race relations, racial bias, racial discrimination, racial profiling, racism, social justice, trauma, violence

How to Talk to Our Kids about the Tragic Shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota and Dallas

Diverse kids holding hands

By Robin Gurwitch, PhD

Families around the country are coming together to talk about the officer-involved shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota, and the ambush of police officers in Dallas, Texas. These events come shortly after the violence in Orlando. In fact, it seems that acts of violence are in the news on a regular basis.

As a nation, we are trying to wrap our minds around what is taking place all around us. Protests related to police injustice, protests about gun violence, protests about tolerance, vigils for those killed in all of these events are happening in many communities across America.

In the aftermath of these events, we are also witnessing many acts of kindness. These have included hugs between protesters and police officers, hand-holding among all genders, races, and ages. Offering lemonade to those standing in the heat.

How do we begin to explain all of this to our children when we, as adults, are having our own difficulties with what is occurring?

First, we need to ask: What do children understand or believe about what they are seeing and hearing from the media, social media, and family?

It is important to include our children in these important conversations. Check in to see children what they are thinking or feeling. This will shape the talks. Feelings may include worries and anxieties to fears about safety and security. There are similarities and there are differences in the talks across families. Families of color are having to talk to their children about how to act should they be stopped by police officers. Is it fair that these discussions must still happen in 2016? Absolutely not.  The fact that this is still necessary is an example of the injustices many face daily.

All families should talk about diversity, the reality of racism and discrimination, and the importance of respect, tolerance, unity and justice.

These events, as horrific as they are, are opportunities for families to come together to discuss how to treat others. It is time for a frank discussion about realities in our society and equitable treatment of all who live in our country. This is a time to share values and beliefs, a time to share our wishes for the future. Research shows us that hate and prejudice are not ingrained—they are taught, they are learned. This is a time to turn the tide and teach our children about the kind of society we want for their future.

While events before and since Ferguson have spotlighted systemic injustices, it is important to also recognize the good done by the majority of police officers on a daily basis in communities around the country. It is important to note for children that as shots rang out in Dallas, police protected protesters and ran toward the sound in hopes of keeping people safe. Police and other first responders can be a resource of help. Families’ experiences may vary widely, so discussions will also vary. While not shying away from the realities of current events, be mindful of the age of children as you talk with them. We are at a long-overdue “tipping point” for improving relationships and trust in our communities. We can and should all be a part of this change.

The protests about police injustice and the attacks on officers are not an “either-or” issue, but are two important, interrelated conversations.

Following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, residents championed the importance of acts of kindness. We should discuss this with our children, too.

As children may be worried about safety and security issues, it is important to share with our children what communities are doing to keep everyone safe. It is also important to help children consider how they would like to show an act of kindness. This may be participating in a community event/vigil for healing. It may be writing a letter or creating a drawing for community first responders or other positive figures in the community; it may be helping a neighbor or a friend in some small way. Rather than tell our children how to act with kindness, let’s be role models by our own actions and words. Let’s include them in the conversation. Oftentimes the ideas of children, even the very young, and teens surprise and impress us! We all have heard the quote, “children are our future,” perhaps now, more than ever, we need to decide what kind of future this will be.

For more information and tips, check out the resources and articles below.

Related Resources:

 

Recent News Articles:

Biography:

Dr. Robin Gurwitch has been involved in understanding the impact of terrorism and disasters on children since the 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City, providing direct service, training, and conducting research. She is a member of the APA Disaster Resource Network, American Red Cross, and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. Dr. Gurwitch was recently appointed to the HHS National Advisory Committee on Children and Disasters.

 

 

 


Filed under: Children and Youth, Criminal and Juvenile Justice, Culture, Ethnicity and Race, Human Rights and Social Justice, Violence Tagged: Children, children's mental health, Dallas, difficult dialogues, excessive force, Louisiana, mass shootings, Minnesota, police brutality, police shootings, policing, race relations, racial bias, racial discrimination, racial profiling, racism, social justice, trauma, violence