The African American Psyche, 1865–Present: An Overview

Claude Steele and Jennifer Richeson

in The Oxford Handbook of African American Citizenship, 1865-Present

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780195188059
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations

The African American Psyche, 1865–Present: An Overview


There are multiple possible views of the Black American psyche. But in the science that focuses on the psyche, the science of psychology, there has really been only variants of one view: the Black psyche is “damaged” to use Daryl Scott's term, in deficit, dominated by self-hatred, infected with self-destructive values and habits of mind, a double consciousness divided against itself, replete with cognitive, linguistic, and emotional deficiencies, and so on. This narrowness of perspective, as reflected in this article, is not restricted to psychology. It is a long evolved cultural framework. Much of the research that has focused squarely on blacks' experiences has examined the potential psychological toll that membership in a socially devalued group may take on black Americans. Although this research is undoubtedly important and informative, it is a perspective that is overrepresented compared with work examining the resilience and strength of blacks and members of other socially devalued groups in the face of group-level devaluation.

Keywords: African American psyche; black Americans; devalued groups; group-level devaluation; cultural framework; resilience

Article.  2556 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Politics and Law

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