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Facilitating Healing for Black Women Experiencing Gendered Racism and Traumatic Stress: The Moderation of Psychosocial Resources

Author(s): Tiffany R Williams, Christy L. Erving, Whitney Frierson, Fanchen Gao, Jeffery E Bass, Reniece Martin, Taeja Mitchell

Black women must navigate a tumultuous sociopolitical terrain while simultaneously managing their psychological health. Experiences of gendered racism increase Black women’s vulnerability to psychological distress. Gendered racial microaggressions, a specific type of microaggression, account for the intricate ways racism and sexism intersect. The association between Black women’s experiences of gendered racial microaggressions and traumatic stress was investigated among 201 Black female-identified undergraduate and graduate students attending a Historically Black College or University. Whether psychosocial resources (i.e., resilience, social support, mastery, self-esteem) moderated the linkage between gendered racial microaggressions and traumatic stress was also examined. Gendered racial microaggressions were positively associated with traumatic stress. The microaggression Assumptions of Beauty and Sexual Objectification was the most strongly associated with traumatic stress, followed by Angry Black Woman. Resilience and mastery were protective factors, reducing the influence of gendered racial microaggressions on traumatic stress. In addition, high levels of social support reduced the impact of Assumptions of Beauty and Sexual Objectification on traumatic stress. To foster healing and posttraumatic growth for Black women, psychologists must decolonize their understanding and treatment of mental illness. Practice and research implications are discussed.

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