Many people experience daily life free from incidents of racism, but there are many others who experience the issue on a regular basis, and such incidents can have a decidedly negative impact on personal well-being and self-esteem. In an effort to understand how different ways of reacting to racism play a role in the long-term experience of the victim, researchers from San Francisco State University recently conducted a study involving nearly two hundred Filipino men and women. The study screened participants for experiences involving racism and found that almost all had encountered at least minor incidents within the past year. Researchers then discerned how the participants had handled these experiences and gathered information about their subsequent mental and emotional health.
The differences between ideal coping strategies in men and women were pronounced. Men who confronted the aggressor or who reported the incident displayed a significantly higher sense of self-esteem and well-being than men who confided in a friend or family member about the matter. The researchers suggest that the disparity between the effectiveness of these two coping mechanisms suggests that men may be more fulfilled by a sense of having done something to combat the racism, rather than feeling victimized. Women, on the other hand, did not display any notable difference between the effects of reporting or confrontation and talking with others. The study suggests that gender-specific counseling and other services for victims of racism may help clients attain more specialized and effective care.
Through realizing that racism is a considerable issue in the lives of many and often has serious implications for well-being, research teams and society in general may be better equipped to help end such incidents and empower victims to overcome related challenges in meaningful ways.
© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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