The Infrastructure of Racism: The Psychic Dimensions

  • Robbie W. C. Tourse
  • Johnnie Hamilton-Mason
  • Nancy J. Wewiorski


The individual psyche is an important component of the societal infrastructure that assists in maintaining racism in the United States. The internalization of racism is an intrinsic part of who we are and is the outcome of centuries of acceptance and reinforcement of societal norms that reflect an unequal society. This chapter focuses on internalization of societal cues that help to form one’s racial identity. A case scenario to illuminate the impact of racial identity on people of all races is used. It explains that societal cues affect the formation of a racial sense of self for people of color and for whites. It also compares and distinguishes between ethnicity and race. Personal and environmental events are rooted in a racist society in America. Racial discrimination is analyzed with a model, based on distancing and oppression that assists with understanding internalized racism. Finally, the chapter presents and discusses Cross’ Racial Identity Development Model and Helms’ Identity Models, presenting scenarios to illustrate different stages in racial identity development.


Psychic infrastructure Psychic internalization Racial identity Discrimination and internalization Ethnic identity Racial identity models 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robbie W. C. Tourse
    • 1
  • Johnnie Hamilton-Mason
    • 2
  • Nancy J. Wewiorski
    • 3
  1. 1.Boston College School of Social WorkChestnut HillUSA
  2. 2.Simmons College School of Social WorkBostonUSA
  3. 3.U.S. Department of Veterans AffairsBostonUSA

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