Date of Degree

2-2022

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Psychology

Advisor

Margaret Rosario

Committee Members

Steven Tuber

Diana Puñales

Deidre Anglin

Adeyinka M. Akinsulure-Smith

Subject Categories

Psychiatry and Psychology

Keywords

Black Americans, Caribbean Black Americans, Intersectionality, Discrimination, Well-Being

Abstract

Objective: The present study examines the experiences of perceived discrimination and psychological well-being among two non-Hispanic Black American ethnic groups, Black Americans whose sole known country of origin is the United States and Black Americans with Caribbean heritage. Lifetime and everyday discrimination, life dissatisfaction, low self-esteem, hopelessness, and psychological distress are explored for each group. The impact of racial identity importance on each of these experiences is explored through self-identification with an identity that is defined racially or nationally (e.g., Black, American, or both equally), and the interaction between ethnicity and sex is considered.

Methods: Data are from adults recruited to the National Survey of American Life (NSAL; Jackson et al., 2004). Adjusted hierarchical logistic and negative binomial regressions were employed to determine the main effects of ethnicity and sex, followed by effects of identity importance, and a final step of a sex-ethnicity interaction term, on each of the discrimination and psychological well-being outcome variables.

Results: Discrimination: Among both ethnicities, men were more likely to report discrimination than women. Among men, Caribbean and native Black Americans had similar odds of reporting discrimination. Among women, Black American natives were more likely to report discrimination than Caribbean Blacks. Black identity importance was associated with increased likelihood of reported discrimination. Psychological Well-Being: Caribbean Black men were most likely to report life dissatisfaction compared to all other groups, while Black American native men were least likely. Those for whom American identity was important were least likely to report life dissatisfaction compared to those reporting all other identities as important (e.g., Black, both equally, and other). No meaningful effects were found for low self-esteem or hopelessness. Native Black American women had the highest levels of psychological distress compared to all other groups, while Caribbean Black women had the lowest. Men did not meaningfully differ in psychological distress. Considering Black identity equally important as American identity was associated with slightly more psychological distress.

Conclusions: Being a Black man in America, regardless of ethnicity, is a significant risk factor for being discriminated against. Native Black American women are uniquely positioned in relation to Caribbean Black women, such that they experience more discrimination and poorer psychological well-being in some areas. Placing importance on Black identity increases the likelihood of experiencing some dimensions of discrimination and is associated with poorer psychological well-being.

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