Intersections of Institutional Racism, Racial Microaggressions, and Minority Stress in the Lived Experiences of Black People


  • Steven Seiler Tennessee Tech University



racial microaggressions, racial stressors, minority stress


Macro-level institutional racism and micro-level racial microaggressions have an insidious effect on the social experience and, consequently, mental health of Black people. The purposes of this study were to compare the differential experiences of structural uncertainties, racial microaggressions, and minority stress between a nation-wide sample of people who are Black and people who are White as well as to understand the impact of racial stressors on minority stress among people who are Black, specifically. It is argued that minority stress among people who are Black is a central process that inherently connects institutional elements and the lived experience and, ultimately, provides a context for a deeper understanding of the connection between racism and mental health among people who are Black. A secondary data analysis of survey data from the “2016 Racial Attitudes in America II” was conducted by the Pew Research Center in which perceptions and experiences of people who are Black and White (Weighted n=3,036) and, subsequently, patterns among a subsample of people who are Black (Weighted n=480) were examined. The study found that larger percentages of people who are Black in the U.S. experience structural uncertainties and racial microaggressions than people who are White. Among people who are Black, as the intensity of racial stressors increases, the level of minority stress increases. Ultimately, the study substantiates the structural uncertainties, racial microaggressions, and minority stress experienced among people who are Black and suggests that minority stress among people who are Black is a psychosocial response to everyday structural uncertainties and racial microaggressions. Based on the results, it is recommended that on a macro-level, healthcare policy acknowledges minority stress among people who are Black and, on a micro-level, that addressing minority stress be incorporated into therapeutic interventions by social workers and other helping professionals as an important component of cultural competency.


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