Abstract: Efficacy to Combat Racism Among African American Adolescent Boys and Girls (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

Efficacy to Combat Racism Among African American Adolescent Boys and Girls

Sunday, January 19, 2020
Supreme Court, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Phylicia Allen, Doctoral Student, Member, University City, MO
Sheretta Butler-Barnes, PhD, Associate Professor, Washington University in Saint Louis, St. Louis, MO
Maya Williams, MSW, Doctoral Student, Washington University in Saint Louis, St. Louis, MO
Ashley Jackson, AM (MSW), Doctoral Student, Washington University in Saint Louis, St Louis, MO
Helen Robinson, MSW MPH, Doctoral Student, Washington University in Saint Louis, St. Louis, MO
Myisha Roberts, MA, Evaluator, Washington University in Saint Louis, Clayton, MO
Background and Purpose: Time spent in educational settings are imperative for African American adolescents, because of the racialized and gendered experiences they may encounter. Literature acknowledges that, African American adolescents encounter experiences of school-based racial discrimination in both homogeneous and racial and ethnically diverse school settings, and these experiences lead to adverse academic, developmental, and behavioral outcomes. Educational settings are important to consider because schools can be an inhibiting environment, following mainstream ideologies, which conflict with the culture and values of the children and families being served. Additionally, these ideologies can influence the perspectives African American adolescents have about themselves. Scholars note that African American adolescents report experiencing a racially discriminatory experience at least once over a 2-week time span. However, one’s efficacy to combat racism is not well known. Thus, we ask: Does adolescents’ efficacy to combat racism mediate the relationship between school-based racial discrimination and racialized educational beliefs?

Methods: The current study is part of a larger study, Maryland Adolescent Development in Context Study (MADICS), conducted by Eccles, Sameroff, and colleagues. MADICS is a community-based longitudinal dataset capturing the influence of context on adolescent behavior and development, including a racial, ethnic and socioeconomically diverse sample (1,482 adolescents and their families) from Prince George County in Washington D.C. A large proportion of African American families, 61% and European Americans, 35% were included in the sample. For this study, we use Wave 4 which was collected during the adolescent’s 11th grade year. Our sample includes a socioeconomically diverse sample of African American adolescents (N = 623, Mage = 16).

Measures: Mediation analyses were conducted for this study. We tested the effect of teacher racial discrimination and racialized educational beliefs, as mediated by efficacy to combat racism. The first step in our model includes teacher racial discrimination, focusing on African American adolescent encounters with teachers. We include efficacy to combat racism, focusing on African American adolescents’ beliefs of being efficacious in combatting teacher racial discrimination. The outcome variable, racialized educational beliefs, captures beliefs around how hard African American adolescents believe they have to work in school because of their race. Gender differences were also explored.

Results: Findings reveal that teacher racial discrimination had a direct effect on racialized educational beliefs. This indicates that African American adolescents who experience racial discrimination, also endorse higher beliefs that they would have to put forth more effort in school because of their race. Furthermore, mediation results highlight gender differences. Efficacious beliefs to combat racial discrimination serve as a mediator for African American adolescent boys but not for African American girls.

Conclusions and Implications: Our study illuminates the importance of examining racially discriminatory experiences and the internal assets of African American adolescents. Thus, social work practitioners should focus on decreasing racial inequality by implementing race- and gender-based interventions that, support positive student-teacher relationships and promote African American adolescents’ agency to combat racism in school. More research is needed to improve our understanding of African American girls’ efficacy to combat racism.