Session: Resilience Among African Americans: Does It Perpetuate Structural Inequalities? (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

165 Resilience Among African Americans: Does It Perpetuate Structural Inequalities?

Friday, January 17, 2020: 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Congress, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Race and Ethnicity (R&E)
Symposium Organizer:
Sandra Edmonds Crewe, PhD, Howard University
Jacqueline Smith, PhD, Howard University
African Americans have historically experienced oppression resulting from discriminatory practices based upon assumptions of racial inferiority. Despite advances in civil rights, disparities and inequities based on racial and ethnic identity continue to exist and some would say thrive. The conference theme, Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality, provides an opportunity to examine factors that have been associated with narrowing the gap. Resilience is defined by Szanton & Gill (2010) as the ability to bounce back from extreme hardships including trauma, stress, or adversity. Resilience has also been identified as an influential factor in African Americans overcoming race-related stress caused by individual racism, institutional racism and cultural racism (Utsey, 1999). The construct of resilience has been used from a developmental perspective for children (Masten, 2001) as well as for adults in responding to trauma (Bonanna, 2005). Often, resilience is touted as a strength of African Americans and is highly regarded for its role as a protective factor among African Americans who face adversities simply because they are members of a racial group that has been targeted as inferior. This symposium addresses resilience in the African American community through a systematic review of literature. The review plan included articles that were published in the social work literature between 2000-2019 (two decades). The articles that were reviewed were identified by a database search based upon two terms: African Americans and Resilience. The articles that emerged used both qualitative and quantitative research methods. The review question was “what recommendations were made for practice (micro and macro levels) based upon the research? The preliminary findings of the 38 articles that were reviewed addressed resilience in the following broad contexts: 1) Education; Health and Mental Health; and Trauma. Measurement of resilience differed among the authors. Additionally, most of the articles focused on micro level versus macro level interventions. The findings were that authors primarily advocated for practice approaches that strengthened individual resilience to manage their adversity. Less was written about macro strategies to remove structural inequities. This then raised the question as to whether the emphasis on resilience as a micro intervention supplanted the broader need to make structural changes to lessen the barriers to success. Thus, the title, Resilience Among African Americans: Does it Perpetuate Racial Inequality? This symposium will include two senior researchers and three doctoral students who present their papers addressing resilience interventions in the areas of education, health and mental health, and trauma. One senior researcher will provide an overview of resilience among African Americans using an historical lens. The various measurement tools that are cited in the literature will be reviewed for their adequacy in measuring resiliency. The other senior researcher will serve as the discussant and make recommendations for improving the systematic review as a doctoral research project. The symposium will engage the audience through discussion as well as interactive excercises.
* noted as presenting author
Resilience and African Americans- Micro and Macro Perspectives
Sandra Edmonds Crewe, PhD, Howard University
Resilence and Mental Health Among African Americans
Kenneth Taylor, MSW, Howard University
Resilience and Education Among African Americans
Ebony McCovery, MSW, Howard University
Resilience and Trauma Among African Americans
Lennon Jackson, MSW, Howard University
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