Coping with racism: What works and doesn't work for Black women?

Lindsey M. West, Roxanne A. Donovan, Lizabeth Roemer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

44 Scopus citations


Perceived racial discrimination (PRD) has deleterious effects on Black Americans. However, there is minimal empirical research on the influence of gender and coping on the relationship between PRD and mental health. This study posited that coping style (i.e., problem-focused coping and avoidant coping) would moderate the relationship between PRD and depressive symptoms in Black women. The sample included 91 Black women (mean age of 23.32 years) from an urban New England university. The Schedule of Racist Events, the Coping Orientations to Problems Experienced scale, and the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale were used to measure PRD, coping style, and depressive symptoms, respectively. Multiple regressions showed that problem-focused and avoidant coping significantly moderated the relationship between lifetime PRD and depressive symptoms. In addition, avoidant coping significantly moderated the relationship between recent PRD and depressive symptoms. The directions of these findings indicate that higher levels of problem-focused coping may buffer the effects of PRD on depressive symptoms, and higher levels of avoidant coping may exacerbate the effects. Implications for Black women's resiliency and susceptibility to mental health distress are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)331-349
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Black Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 9 2010
Externally publishedYes



  • African American
  • Black women
  • Coping
  • Depression
  • Perceived racial discrimination
  • Racism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Applied Psychology

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