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Member Research and Reports

Rutgers: Study Finds Black Teens Face Racial Discrimination Multiple Times Daily, Suffer Depressive Symptoms as a Result

A Rutgers School of Public Health study, published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, examined how often Black teens experience racial discrimination each day – either personally or vicariously and online or offline.

The researchers surveyed 101 Black youth between ages 13 and 17 from predominantly Black neighborhoods in Washington, DC, each day for two weeks. The teens reported more than 5,600 experiences of racial discrimination in total – an average of more than five experiences per day.

“This research reflects what researchers and activists have asserted for years: Black adolescents are forced to face antiblack microaggressions on a daily basis. Importantly, this study expands the research on the many ways that discrimination happens, whether it is being teased by peers, asked to speak for their racial group in class or seeing a racist post on social media,” said lead author Dr. Devin English, assistant professor and the study’s lead author.

The experiences reported in the study, which ranged from teasing about physical appearance to overt discrimination, mainly occurred online and led to short-term increases in depressive symptoms.

“Although public discourse can indirectly or directly blame health inequities on Black youth, our study provides evidence that racial discrimination in society is a fundamental cause of these health inequities,” he added. “Knowing this, people in positions of power such as clinicians, school administrators and policy makers have a responsibility to consider discrimination as a critical aspect of the daily experience and health of Black teens. Racial discrimination prevention should be a public health imperative.”

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