Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Study Type



School for Social Work


African American women-Psychology, Black women-Psychology, Blacks-Race identity, Internalization, Racism, Internalized racism, Racial identity development, Black


The purpose of this study was to address the research question, how do African American/Black Women unlearn internalized racism, and to understand the relationship between internalized racism and racial identity development. Internalized racism was defined as the acceptance of negative, stereotypical or devaluing ideas and beliefs about ones own racial group, and about oneself as a member of that group.

A series of 11 interview questions explored the processes in which Black women learn and unlearn racism over time. Thirteen self-identified Black/African-American women were interviewed regarding their experiences. They were further questioned regarding their methods of coping with and resisting internalized racism.

The findings demonstrated that internalized racism causes long term behavioral and psychological effects for the Black women in this study, and partially supported existing literature on racial identity development models. Participants named a variety of creative and wise ways to challenge internalized racism. These findings hold significance for those who seek to understand and acknowledge how internalized racism impacts the lives of Black women, and for those who would support positive, healthy Black identity development.




v, 65 pages : color illustrations. M.S.W., Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Ma., 2016. Includes bibliographical references (pages 53-56)

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