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The Protective Influence of Self-Compassion Against Internalized Racism Among African Americans

Alexandra Kristine Dahl Emery, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Racist experiences and internalized racism may lead to poorer mental health outcomes for African Americans born and socialized in the United States (Graham, West, Martinez & Roemer, 2016; Mouzon & McLean, 2017). Self-compassion has been shown to protect against poor mental health outcomes, but limited research exists with respect to African Americans specifically (Lockard, Hayes, Neff and Locke, 2014). The present study explored whether self-compassion could serve as a protective factor between the relations of internalized racism and racist experiences, and the negative mental health outcomes of anxiety, depression, and stress among (N = 230) African American adults. To examine these relations, structural equation modeling was utilized to determine the best fit for the data. Though both internalized racism and racist experiences negatively predicted self-compassion, racist experiences failed to predict anxiety, depression, and stress, while internalized racism did positively predict these mental health outcomes. Self-compassion also was found to negatively predict anxiety, depression, and stress. Further analysis of fit statistics suggested that the model excluding racist experiences demonstrated best model fit. Ultimately, it was found self-compassion moderated the relation between internalized racism, and anxiety, depression and stress.

Subject Area

Counseling Psychology|Mental health|Black studies|African American Studies

Recommended Citation

Emery, Alexandra Kristine Dahl, "The Protective Influence of Self-Compassion Against Internalized Racism Among African Americans" (2019). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI27997710.