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Psychological Effects of Racism in American Schools 1

Psychological Effects of Racism in American Schools

Wendy Mata

The University of Texas at El Paso

Psychological Effects of Racism in American Schools 2


Racism continues to be one of the major issues among American societies. However,

many people are unaware of how racism is practice or how much of racism still lives among the

nation. Racism has existed for decades and it still cant be eradicated. Several people believe that

a person who is racist was born like that, what they dont know or lack to believe is that a person

cant be born racist, however the person can learn to be racist as they grow up and their

environment influence their life. There are plenty of factors that lead to racism such as;

frustration, and a hard childhood, just to mention a few. Racism is more common in schools,

since kids think that it is not a serious issue. They take it more as a game without thinking of the

consequences. It is very important that people start thinking of ways to end this problem for once

and for all.

Psychological Effects of Racism in American Schools 3

Table of Contents

Abstract . 2

Introduction ... 4

Definition of Racism .4

Racism being an obstacle for students4-5

What Impacts does racism causes?.................................................................................5-6

Harmful effects6-7

Does Racism cause PTSD? .7

How does racism strength mentally? .7-8

How does the history of racism differ from present racism? .8

What should people do to change racism? ..9

Appendix 10

Psychological Effects of Racism in American Schools 4

American schools have encounter a racist act since past years. There was a court case in

1896 named Plessy v. Ferguson which led to separated facilities for education. Because of

this case, people started coming up with the separate but equal term where back then, whites

and blacks attended different schools but with the same education. As time passed by peoples

lack to hear or comprehend psychological motives that racism involves. Otherwise speaking,

from a psychologically approach, what does being racist do to an individual? Some

psychological motives that are associated with racism are; self-esteem, survival, and meaning.

This research paper will discuss how the psychological effects of racism in American schools

affect individuals lives and it will provide ideas on how to end racism.
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What is Racism?

Racism can be a belief that a race is superior or inferior to another, that a persons social

and moral traits are predetermined by his or her inborn biological characteristics. Racial

separatism is the belief, most of the time based on racism, that different races should remain

segregated and apart from one another.

People think racism no longer exists in schools however they are very wrong. Racism is

more evident than ever, and people should try to stop it because eventually, racism disturbs the

students learning and intervenes in their success.

Racism being an obstacle for students

Throughout history there has been stories in where racism has had the biggest impact on

students. Student from different races think that establishing a new friendship is hard.

However, students are not the only ones who experience this thought, school staff and

even the parents find it difficult to adapt to new environment. Thus, therefore people

usually interact with individuals from their similar race because it suits their comfort

zone. This social race circles make it harder for individuals to make friends because it

enhances no growth among the diverse communities. A book by the name of Racialized

schools: Understanding and addressing racism in schools portraits schools activities

and how racism crawls along the walls of schools and affects the lifestyles of the

students. This book presents different models and points of view to understand the

concept of racism.
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What Impacts does racism causes?

Not only does racism enables a student to make friends but it also causes the student to

feel inferior and start rejecting their parent values and their own culture.

Take an eight-year-old girl who lives in South Africa as an example. She

told a journalist, White people are better than black people, Whites know more, have more,

and get more. I wish I was white but I am not. The article explains that no children should suffer

from segregation, however children still dont live in a world where there is no prejudice-free

zone. (Racism in Americas Schools. ERIC Digest. (n.d).

In the book, Addressing Racism: Facilitating Cultural Competence in Mental Health

and Educational Settings the author Madonna G. Constantine states that since students who

face racism reject their culture in the long run this action leads to identity confusion; in other

words, the individual lacks to know who and where they should be. Madonna G. states, This

leads to both short term and long term social and psychological issues which affects their lives


As part of a learning path, students are always on the eye of somebody and students were

observed to have adopted negative behaviors such as; aggression. Students create hate among

each other and use that hate in the prejudice against students from other races. Physical fights

have been recorded because of racism, many fights occur among students, and students use

abusive offensive language against their fellow classmates. All this bad behavior student adapts

to tease their class mates have a harmful effect on the victims personalities.

Harmful Effects
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Racism is one of the major factors of school dropout cases. Reason being, is that people

who suffer from racism start to hate school and happened to feel happier and free once theyre

away from school because no one bothers them. The victims preferred to stay at home where

they are away from the dangers of the racism. The victims when they attend school tend to get

bad grades because they get distracted, therefore they get teased and get more encourage to drop

out. The victims parents also get discourage in the education of their off-springs and never try to

encourage them to go back to school. Dropping-out of school has a major impact on the students

who suffer from racism. Since they dont have a High School diploma, they dont usually get a

well payed job. They end up getting frustrated and perhaps they have a desire to get easy money

and they start stealing, or doing other kinds of crimes. Keep in mind students are the only ones

who suffer from racism., teachers can also experience racism. When racism attacks teachers, the

teachers lose motivation in teaching, their performance is not the same and the students suffer

because of this. Teachers also feel anxious and dont feel the energy or the enthusiasm to teach

their class. Nevertheless, racism not only affects a students academic life but also its health.

Racism causes depression, along with anxiety.

Does Racism cause PTSD?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder a.k.a. PTSD is a long-term condition that can set in after

any traumatic event. PTSD dominates the victims life to a point where they stop enjoying

everything and all they feel is anger and depression. PTSD is more common on people who have

suffer from a very traumatic event such as; sexual assault, violence, natural disaster, witnessing a

serious accident, sudden death, war, etc. According to the article Racism Doesnt Just Suck- It

Causes PTSD the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) changed the criteria for
Psychological Effects of Racism in American Schools 8

PTSD and now it recognizes the condition can be caused by racism as well. The DMS-5 accepts

that racism is a very bad that if a person is exposed to racism over a long period of time perhaps

a lifetime, it can lead or cause PTSD.

How does racism strength mentally?

Like any other problem theres pros and cons in racism. Some people argue that racism

can only make a person stronger, but people who face racism, want attention and argue that

they feel sick, or that they are in the verge of self-harm; suicide. This argument would be invalid,

as racism has been proven to cause a very low self-esteem/self-doubt making the individual

weak. Usually, people get very affected by racism that the whole family suffers and no one copes

to the situation to help the individual suffering.

How does the history of racism differ from present racism?

Racism has change much from back then to now. People still discriminate and hate

whats different. The only thing that really changed was that back then there were slaves, and

segregated schools. Back then, separating races was totally okay, now its illegal to be racist

against someone. Nevertheless, society has adapted racism as an everyday type of thing. Racism

is very common today however, people dont think its called racism people think that racism

was left in the past, but it really isnt. People today think that kids are just mean, and playful

specially in a school environment. Over all racism hasnt change, todays President, Donald

Trump seems to promote racism. He got in charge of making Mexicans look like criminals and

black people as something inferior as well. Trumps supporters accepted Trumps assumptions

towards the different races and they started to become more racist.
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Many things change, the economy, leaders of America, law, but the one important thing

that affects Americas society, American people, education hasnt change at all.

What should people do to change Racism?

Racism will never stop however, people can reduce racism it by influencing other people

to stop their racist acts. Everyone regardless of their nationality has a right to live happily and

with freedom without fearing of being discriminated. If a racist act occurs during school, the best

thing to do would be to report it immediately instead of fighting back.


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racism in schools.
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Jubenville, John M. The Effects of Racism in Education Upon Inner-city High School

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