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Health and Health-Related Correlates of Internalized Racism Among Racial/Ethnic Minorities: a Review of the Literature


Internalized racism (IR) is a form of racism that leads people to internalize beliefs and stereotypes about their racial/ethnic (RE) group and/or about themselves because of their RE group membership. However, relative to other forms of racism research investigating the relationship IR and health is lacking. Thus, in an attempt to promote research on IR, this paper reviews and summarizes 112 empirical quantitative studies—representing nearly three decades of research published between January 1990 to December 2018—that examine the health and health-related correlates of IR among racial/ethnic minorities. Collectively, evidence from this review suggests that (1) IR is negatively associated with health via decrements in positive core self-evaluation; (2) IR exacerbates the relationship between other stressors and ill health; (3) IR mediates the relationship between discrimination and health; and (4) IR is a self-protective strategy that protects against ill health. Using the accumulated evidence, this review presents new conceptualizations of IR, along with specific recommendations on how to improve the scientific study of IR among racial/ethnic minorities.

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*See supplement for studies included in the review.

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Correspondence to Drexler James.

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James, D. Health and Health-Related Correlates of Internalized Racism Among Racial/Ethnic Minorities: a Review of the Literature. J. Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities 7, 785–806 (2020).

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  • Internalized racism
  • Internalized racial oppression
  • Racism
  • Racial health disparities
  • Stigma
  • Internalized stigma
  • Internalized racial dominance