Date: 13 Nov 2012
The Moderating Effects of Skin Color and Ethnic Identity Affirmation on Suicide Risk among Low-SES African American Women
Rent the article at a discountRent now
* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.Get Access
This study examined the influence of concurrent racism and sexism experiences (i.e., gendered racism) on African American women’s suicidal ideation and behavior in the context of disadvantaged socioeconomic status. Drawing on a stress process framework, the moderating effects of ethnic identity and skin color were explored using multiple regression analyses. Data were from 204 low-income African American women in the B-WISE (Black Women in a Study of Epidemics) project. Findings suggested that experiencing gendered racism significantly increased these women’s risk for suicidal ideation or behavior, though only among women with medium or dark skin color. Also, having strong ethnic identity buffered the harmful effects of gendered racism. The moderating properties of skin color and ethnic identity affirmation likely operate through psychosocial pathways, blocking internalization of negative stereotypes and reducing the level of distress experienced in response to gendered racism.
Agerbo, E., Nordentoft, M., & Mortensen, P. B. (2002). Familial, psychiatric, and socioeconomic risk factors for suicide in young people: Nested case-control study. British Medical Journal, 325, 1–5.CrossRef
Agerbo, E., Qin, P., & Mortensen, P. B. (2006). Psychiatric illness, socioeconomic status, and marital status in people committing suicide: A matched case-sibling-control study. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 60, 776–781.CrossRef
Anderson, L. P. (1991). Acculturative stress: A Theory of relevance to Black Americans. Clinical Psychology Review, 11, 685–702.CrossRef
Aneshensel, C. S., Rutter, C. M., & Lachenbruch, P. A. (1991). Social structure, stress, and mental health: Competing conceptual and analytic models. American Sociological Review, 56, 166–178.CrossRef
Beale, F. (1995). Double jeopardy: To be black and female. In B. Guy-Sheftall (Ed.), Words of fire: An anthology of African American feminist thought. New York, NY: New Press.
Bodenhorn, H. (2006). Colorism, complexion homogamy, and household wealth: Some historical evidence. American Economic Review, 96, 256–260.CrossRef
Bond, S., & Cash, T. F. (1992). Black beauty: Skin color and body images among African-American college women. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 22, 874–888.CrossRef
Brown, D. R. (2003). A conceptual model of mental well-being for African American women. In D. R. Brown & V. M. Keith (Eds.), In and out of our right minds (pp. 1–19). New York: Columbia University Press.
Bryant-Davis, T. (2005). Racist incident-based trauma. The Counseling Psychologist, 33, 479–500.CrossRef
Buchanan, N. T., & Fitzgerald, L. F. (2008). Effects of racial and sexual harassment on work and the psychological well-being of African American women. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 13, 137–151.CrossRef
Center for Disease Control; CDC. (2011). Web-based injury statistics query and reporting system, 1981–1998. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html.
Clark, R., Anderson, N. B., Clark, V. R., & Williams, D. R. (1999). Racism as a stressor for African Americans. American Psychologist, 54, 805–816.CrossRef
Conwell, Y., Dubertstein, P. R., & Caine, E. D. (2002). Risk factors for suicide in later life. Biological Psychiatry, 52, 193–204.CrossRef
Du Bois, W. E. B. (1903). Souls of black folk. Chicago: A.C. McClurg.
Dube, S. R., Anda, R. F., Felitti, V. J., Chapman, D. P., Williamson, D. F., & Giles, W. H. (2001). Childhood abuse, household dysfunction, and the risk of attempted suicide throughout the life span. Journal of the American Medical Association, 307, 883–885.
Evans, E., Hawton, K., & Rodham, K. (2004). Factors associated with suicidal phenomena in adolescents: A systematic review of population-based studies. Clinical Psychology Review, 24, 957–979.CrossRef
Feagin, J. R. (1991). The continuing significance of race: Antiblack discrimination in public places. American Sociological Review, 56, 101–116.CrossRef
Feagin, J. R. (2001). Racist America. Roots, current realities, & future reparations. New York NY: Routedge.
Feskanich, D., Hastrup, J. L., Marshall, J. R., Colditz, G. A., Stampfer, M. J., Willett, W. C., et al. (2002). Stress and suicide in the Nurses’ Health Study. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 56, 95–98.CrossRef
Foreman, T. A., Williams, D. R., & Jackson, J. S. (1997). Race, place, and discrimination. Perspectives on Social Problems, 9, 231–261.
Franklin, A. J., Boyd-Franklin, N., & Kelly, S. (2006). Racism and invisibility: Race-related stress, emotional abuse and psychological trauma for people of color. In L. V. Blitz & M. P. Greene (Eds.), Racism and racial identity: Reflections on urban practice in mental health and social services. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press.
Ghavami, N., Fingerhut, A., Peplau, L., Grant, S. K., & Wittig, M. A. (2011). Testing a model of minority identity achievement, identity affirmation, and psychological well-being among ethnic minority and sexual minority individuals. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 17, 79–88.CrossRef
Gibbs, J. T. (1997). African American suicide: A cultural paradox. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 27, 68–79.
Greer, T. M., Laseter, A., & Asiamah, D. (2009). Gender as a moderator of the relation between race-related stress and mental health symptoms for African Americans. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 33, 295–307.CrossRef
Harrell, S. P. (2000). A multidimensional conceptualization of racism-related stress: Implications for the well-being of People of Color. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 70, 42–57.CrossRef
Hersch, J. (2006). Skin tone effects among African Americans: Perceptions and reality. The American Economic Review, 96, 251–255.CrossRef
Hochschild, J. L., & Weaver, V. (2007). The skin color paradox and the American racial order. Social Forces, 86, 643–670.CrossRef
Hooks, B., & Mesa-Bains, A. (2006). Homegrown: Engaged cultural criticism. Cambridge, MA: South End Press.
Hunter, M. (1998). Colorstruck: Skin color stratification in the lives of African American women. Sociological Inquiry, 68, 517–535.CrossRef
Iwamoto, D. K., & Liu, M. W. (2010). The impact of racial identity, ethnic identity, Asian values, and race-related stress on Asian Americans and Asian international college students’ psychological well-being. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 57, 79–91.CrossRef
Jackson, F. M. (2002). Considerations for community-based research with African American women. American Journal of Public Health, 92, 561–564.CrossRef
Jackson, J. S., Brown, T. N., Williams, D. R., Torres, M., Sellers, S. L., & Brown, K. (1996). Racism and the physical and mental health status of African Americans: A thirteen year national panel study. Ethnicity and Disease, 6, 132–147.
Jackson, F. M., Hogue, C. R., & Phillips, M. T. (2005). The development of a race and gender-specific stress measure for African-American women: Jackson, Hogue, Phillips contextualized stress measure. Ethnicity and Disease, 15, 594–600.
Joe, S., Baser, R. E., Breeden, G., Neighbors, H. W., & Jackson, J. S. (2006). Prevalence of and risk factors for lifetime suicide attempts among Blacks in the United States. Journal of the American Medical Association, 296, 2112–2123.CrossRef
Jones, C., & Shorter-Gooden, K. (2003). Shifting: The double lives of black women in America. New York: Harper Collins.
Keith, V., & Herring, C. (1991). Skin tone and stratification in the black community. American Journal of Sociology, 97, 760–778.
Keith, V. M., & Thompson, M. S. (2003). Color matters: the importance of skin tone for African American women’s self-concept in Black and White America. In D. R. Brown & V. M. Keith (Eds.), In and out of our right minds. New York: Columbia University Press.
Kessler, R. C., Mickelson, K. D., & Williams, D. R. (1999). The prevalence, distribution, and mental health correlates of perceived discrimination in the United States. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 40, 208–230.CrossRef
Kessler, R. C., Borges, G., & Walters, E. E. (2001). Prevalence of and risk factors for lifetime suicide attempts in the National Comorbidity Study. Archives of General Psychiatry, 56, 617–626.CrossRef
King, K. R. (2003). Racism or sexism? Attributional ambiguity and simultaneous membership in multiple oppressed groups. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 33, 223–247.CrossRef
Klonoff, E., & Landrine, H. (1995). The schedule of sexist events: A measure of lifetime and recent sexist discrimination in women’s lives. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 19, 439–472.CrossRef
Klonoff, E., & Landrine, H. (1999). Cross-validation of the Schedule of Racist Events. Journal of Black Psychology, 25, 231–254.CrossRef
Klonoff, E., & Landrine, H. (2000). Is skin color a marker for racial discrimination?: Explaining the skin color-hypertension relationship. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 23, 329–338.CrossRef
Krieger, N. (1990). Racial and gender discrimination: Risk factors for high blood pressure? Social Science and Medicine, 30, 1273–1281.CrossRef
Lake, O. (2003). Blue veins and Kinky hair: Naming and color consciousness in African America. Westport, CT: Kraeger.
Landrine, H., & Klonoff, E. (1996). The schedule of racist events: A measure of racial discrimination and a study of its negative physical and mental health consequences. Journal of Black Psychology, 22, 144–168.CrossRef
Landrine, H., Klonoff, E., Gibbs, J., Manning, V., & Lund, M. (1995). Physical and psychiatric correlates of gender discrimination: An application of the Schedule of Sexist Events. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 19, 473–492.CrossRef
Lazarus, R. S. (1999). Stress and emotion: A new synthesis. New York: Springer.
Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal, and coping. New York: Springer Publishing Company.
Maddox, K. B. (2004). Perspectives on racial phenotypicality bias. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 8, 383–401.
Maris, R. W. (1997). Social and familial risk factors in suicidal behavior. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 20, 519–550.CrossRef
Massey, D. (2004). Segregation and stratification: A biosocial perspective. The DuBois Review, 1, 7–25.
Moradi, B., & Subich, L. M. (2003). A concomitant examination of the relations of perceived racist and sexist events to psychological distress for African American women. The Counseling Psychologist, 31, 451–469.CrossRef
Morrison, R., & O’Connor, R. (2005). Predicting psychological distress in college students: The role of rumination and stress. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 61, 447–460.CrossRef
Moscicki, E. K. (1997). Identification of suicide risk factors using epidemiologic studies. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 20, 499–517.CrossRef
Moscicki, E. K. (2001). Epidemiology of completed and attempted suicide: Toward a framework for prevention. Clinical Neuroscience Research, 1, 310–323.CrossRef
Outten, H. R., Schmitt, M. T., Garcia, D. M., & Branscombe, N. R. (2009). Coping options: Missing links between minority group identification and psychological well-being. Applied Psychology, 58, 146–170.CrossRef
Patton, T. O. (2006). Hey girl, am I more than my hair?: African American women and their struggles with beauty, body image, and hair. Feminist Formations, 18, 24–51.
Pearlin, L. I. (1999). Stress and mental health: A conceptual overview. In A. V. Horwitz & T. L. Scheid (Eds.), A handbook for the study of mental health (pp. 161–175). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Perry, B. L., Pullen, E., & Oser, C. B. (2012). Too much of a good thing? Psychosocial resources, gendered racism, and suicidal ideation among low-socioeconomic status African American women. Social Psychology Quarterly. doi:10.1177/0190272512455932
Phelan, J. C., Link, B. G., & Tehranifar, P. (2010). Social conditions as fundamental causes of health inequalities: Theory, evidence, and policy implications. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 51, S28–S40.CrossRef
Phinney, J. S. (1992). The Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure: A New Scale for Use with Diverse Groups. Journal of Adolescent Research, 7, 156–176.CrossRef
Phinney, J., & Ong, A. D. (2007). Conceptualization and measurement of ethnic identity: Current status and future directions. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 54, 271–281.CrossRef
Poussaint, A. F., & Alexander, A. (2000). Lay my burden down: Suicide and the mental health crisis among African-Americans. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.
Pyke, K. D. (2010). What is internalized racial oppression and why don’t we study it? Acknowledging racism’s hidden injuries. Sociological Perspectives, 53, 551–572.CrossRef
Rogers Wood, N. A., & Petrie, T. A. (2010). Body dissatisfaction, ethnic identity, and disordered eating among African American women. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 57, 141–153.CrossRef
Russell, K., Wilson, M., & Hall, R. (1993). The color complex: The politics of skin color among African Americans. New York: Anchor Books.
Saltzberg, E. A., & Chrisler, J. C. (1997). Beauty is the beast: Psychological effects of the pursuit of the perfect female body. In D.Estelle (Ed.), Reconstructing gender: A multicultural anthology (pp. 134–145). Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing.
Sanchez-Hycles, J. V. (1999). Racism: Emotional abusiveness and psychological trauma for ethnic minorities. Journal of Emotional Abuse, 1, 69–87.CrossRef
Scott, L. D. (2003). The relation of racial identity and racial socialization to coping with discrimination among African American adolescents. Journal of Black Studies, 33, 520–538.CrossRef
Sellers, R. M., Caldwell, C. H., Schmeelk-Cone, K. H., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2003). Racial identity, racial discrimination, perceived stress, and psychological distress among African American young adults. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 44, 302–317.CrossRef
Sellers, R. M., Copeland-Linder, N., Martin, P. P., & Lewis, R. L. (2006). Racial identity matters: The relationship between racial discrimination and psychological functioning in African American adolescents. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 16, 187–216.CrossRef
Sigelman, L., & Welch, S. (1991). Black Americans’ views of racial inequality: The dream deferred. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Spicer, R. S., & Miller, T. R. (2000). Suicide acts in eight states: Incidence and case fatality rates by demographics and method. American Journal of Public Health, 90, 1885–1891.CrossRef
Sue, D. W. (2010). Microaggressions in everyday life: Race, gender, and sexual orientation. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley.
Sue, D. W., Nadal, K., Capodilupo, C., Lin, A., Torino, G., & Rivera, D. (2008). Racial microaggressions against Black Americans: Implications for counseling. Journal of Counseling and Development, 86, 330–338.CrossRef
Szymanski, D., & Stewart, D. (2010). Racism and sexism as correlates of African American women’s psychological distress. Sex Roles, 63, 226–238.CrossRef
Thomas, A. J., Witherspoon, K. M., & Speight, S. L. (2008). Gendered racism, psychological distress, and coping styles of African American women. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 14, 307–314.CrossRef
Thomas, A. J., Hacker, J. D., & Hoxha, D. (2011). Gendered racial identity of Black young women. Sex Roles, 64, 530–542.CrossRef
Thompson, M. S., & Keith, V. M. (2001). The blacker the berry: Gender, skin tone, self-esteem, and self-efficacy. Gender & Society, 15, 336–357.CrossRef
Thompson, M. S., & Keith, V. M. (2004). Copper brown and blue black: Colorism and self-evaluation. In C. Herring, V. M. Keith, & H. W. Horton (Eds.), Skin deep: How race and complexion matter in the “color-blind”. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.
Utsey, S. O., & Hook, J. N. (2007). Heart rate variability as a physiological moderator of the relationship between race-related stress and psychological distress in African Americans. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 13, 250–253.
Utsey, S. O., Giesbrecht, N., Hook, J., & Stanard, P. M. (2008). Cultural, sociofamilial, and psychological resources that inhibit psychological distress in African Americans exposed to stressful life events and race-related stress. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 55, 49–62.CrossRef
Verkuyten, M. (2010). Assimilation ideology and situational well-being among ethnic minority members. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46, 269–275.CrossRef
Wallace, S. A., Townsend, T. G., Glasgoq, Y. M., & Ojie, M. J. (2011). Gold diggers, video vixens, and jezebels: Stereotype images and substance use among urban African American girls. Journal of Women's Health, 20, 1315–1324.
Walker, R. L. (2007). Acculturation and acculturative stress as indicators for suicide risk among African Americans. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 77, 386–391.CrossRef
Walker, R. L., Wingate, L. R., Obasi, E. M., & Joiner, T. E. (2008). An empirical investigation of acculturative stress and ethnic identity as moderators for depression and suicidal ideation in college students. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 14, 75–82.CrossRef
Wethington, E., McLeod, J., & Kessler, R. C. (1987). The importance of life events for explaining sex differences in psychological distress. In R. C. Barnett, L. Biener, & B. K. Baruch (Eds.), Gender and stress (pp. 144–154). New York: Free Press.
Williams, D. R., & Williams-Morris, R. (2000). Racism and mental health: The African American experience. Ethnicity and Health, 5, 243–268.CrossRef
Woods-Giscombe, C. L., & Lobel, M. (2008). Race and gender matter: A multidimensional approach to conceptualizing and measuring stress in African American women. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 14, 173–182.CrossRef
- The Moderating Effects of Skin Color and Ethnic Identity Affirmation on Suicide Risk among Low-SES African American Women
Race and Social Problems
Volume 5, Issue 1 , pp 1-14
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Springer US
- Additional Links
- African American
- Ethnic identity
- Skin color