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Theses Doctoral

Promoting Activism: The Relationship of Racism-related Stress, Spirituality and Religious Orientation to Mental Health and Activism among African Americans

Prosper, Tasha

Despite the election of a Black President and media assertions at the time heralding a “post racial” America in which racial divides no longer exist, health disparities, poverty rates, incarceration rates, discrimination and educational inequality still are a daily reality for African Americans. African Americans still have the burden of having to cope with racism making the explorations of coping strategies for African Americans dealing with racism vitally important. The present study explored religious orientation, spirituality, race-related stress, mental health outcomes and activism for African Americans. In particular, race -related stress was predicted to be significantly predictive of activism, such that the more one has experienced race related stressors the more likely they would be activated to engage in social justice related activities (H1). The study predicted that higher levels of quest religious orientation and intrinsic spirituality would be related to higher levels of African American activism (H2a). It was also predicted that higher levels of religious fundamentalism would be related to lower levels of activism (H2b). Regarding the relationship of spirituality and activism to mental health, it was predicted that quest religious orientation and intrinsic spirituality and activism would be related to greater mental health outcomes (H3a), while a fundamentalist spiritual orientation and race-related stress would be related of poorer mental health (H3b). It was also predicted that African American activism would be related to greater mental health outcomes (H4a) and that racism-related stress would be negatively related to mental health (H4b) The results indicated that for this sample, none of the spirituality variables (Quest Orientation, Fundamentalism Orientation, and Intrinsic Spirituality), nor the experience of racism (race-related stress), nor African American Activism, was related to mental health. However, the variables examined were significantly related to African American Activism. Quest Religious Orientation, Intrinsic spirituality, and race-related stress were all positively related to engagement in action for racial justice. Fundamentalist religious orientation was negatively related to action for social justice.

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Academic Units
Counseling Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Gushue, George V.
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
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