The Psychology in African American

Topics: Race and Ethnicity, African American, Black people Pages: 5 (1917 words) Published: January 20, 2015
Over the last 500 years, our country has established and battled one of the largest socio-tragedies known to man: racism. While this pestilent issue has affected many ethnic groups, the most publicly known is the racial discrimination concerning African Americans. By my reasoning, along with many sociologists and psychologists, racism is the root cause of African American race socialization. Race socialization is the theory of verbal and non-verbal messages being transmitted to specific ethnic groups for the positive or negative development of behaviors, philosophies, morals, and attitudes concerning the significance and importance of racial stratification, intergroup interactions, and personal and group identity. The timespan in which I will be surveying connects milestones of race socialization with many of the most significant moments in United States history. The primary sources I will be using as support for this paper will be several works by W.E.B. Du Bois1 and a book by Dr. Faye Belgrave entitled African American Psychology: From Africa to America2. The psychological effect that racism and race socialization has had on African Americans is more than apparent not only through texts written by various sociologists and psychologists, but also throughout history. I will focus on a specific fifty-year span when race socialization took effect, racism was socially acceptable and ultimately racism was combatted. It is my purpose in this paper to discuss, examine and determine the psychological effect that racism and race socialization has had on American citizens of African descent between the timespan of 1870 to 1970. To better recognize the psychology behind African American race socialization, the idea of racism has to be understood. Racism is the belief that all members of each race possess the same characteristics and abilities. Racism came about when the Caucasian race felt superior to other ethnic groups and began categorizing them by their combined racial and ethnic traits. The problem with the categorization is that race and ethnicity are not the same thing3. Racism uses ethnic traits and forces them onto a group of people as their “race”. Ethnicity is considered to be similar cultural factors like nationality, culture, ancestry and language. While race is comparable physical appearances like skin, eyes, hair and jawbone structure. Combining these two factors and using them against people who appear to be similar is exactly where racism stems4. Another strong belief is that racism plays on the weaknesses and self esteem of the targeted group. In Dr. Faye Belgrave’s book African American Psychology: From Africa to America, she discusses how racism and racial identity are directly influenced by the Western ideology of self-esteem. Dr. Belgrave concludes that racism, in regards to anyone of African descent, should not be defined by Western ideologies because they are not of Western descent. This is explained on page 11 of her book5. In understanding what self-esteem is from an African as well as a Western perspective, one must understand the difference between Western and African conceptions of the self. Using a Western definition, self-esteem can be defined as a feeling of liking and regard for one’s self. From an Africentric perspective, the personal self is indistinguishable from the self that is derived from membership in the African community (Nobles, 1991). Therefore, one’s affiliation to one’s group defines one’s view of self. The African proverb, “I am because we are and we are because I am,” characterizes this notion of the self. Thus, the self-esteem of people of African descent may be different from that of Whites, and it also may function differently for African Americans than for Whites. Dr. Belgrave continues her thoughts on self-esteem and the many other factors that contribute to racism in chapter 9 of her book. It is the belief of many that racism is a part of human nature. I, however, believe that...
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