Study Finds Coping Methods Influence Impact of Racism

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 John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Racine

    Racine

    April 5th, 2010 at 8:21 AM

    Yeah I totally agree with this because I know that as a black woman I handle racist incidents way different than my husband would. He is more likely to confront and be aggressive with someone whereas I am more likely to internalize the incident and let it knaw away at me. So he suffers from anger issues and the way that those impact his life while I let the tress of it eat away at me. Neither are great ways for dealing and contrary to popular belief there is no one size fits all method for dealing with the issue. I think that it very much has to be customized to meet the differing ways that men and women deal with the issue and I am so pleased to learn that this is being emphasized more than ever before.

  • shane L.

    shane L.

    April 5th, 2010 at 12:51 PM

    I have seen this hapenning to people of other races here and I have personally walked up to the perpetrator and have confronted him once when i saw two asian women beig victimized…this racism is really giving our nation a bad name and should be stopped!

  • DYLAN

    DYLAN

    April 5th, 2010 at 3:05 PM

    I agree that a person who actually confronts someone who is being racist towards him/her will feel better than someone who will actually cower and suffer the abuse…this is because the self esteem aspect comes into play in this case.

  • Pauline

    Pauline

    April 6th, 2010 at 6:21 AM

    I agree that confronting someone in the moment may make you feel better at that point in time, but some feel they have to suffer through it because they are afraid for their lives if they are to walk up and confront someone. I think that I would rather take it and live than to lose my life because of the ignorance of others. There is certainly a time, a place, and a way to deal with issues like this but in my experience hateful confrontation has never been the best way to do that. What about simply taking a stand in a peaceful manner? This will show that you are not going to engage in violent words or actions, but that you will not be put down in this manner either.

  • Frank

    Frank

    March 31st, 2012 at 2:02 AM

    For me, the only way is Jesus Christ. When you have Him inside you it is an awesome feeling and it is because of His greatness that it overcome such issues in life.

    Thank You Jesus,

    Frank

    ps: He is the only way to “fully” overcome.

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