by Guest Contributor Jenn, originally published at Reappropriate
New America Media posts a story about a study that looked at methods for coping with racism. Scientists surveyed nearly 200 Filipino Americans, and found that 99% of those surveyed had experienced at least one form of everyday racism in the last year. More importantly, those who reported the incident to authorities, or who directly confronted the perpetrator, experienced reduced anxiety and heightened self-esteem in the wake of the incident.
Coming up with a plan to respond to racism may foster a “you can do it’ attitude, a sense of empowerment that buffers against distress and feelings of victimhood,” Alvarez says. Coping by confiding in friends and family was found to increase men’s psychological distress and lower their selfesteem. The authors believe this surprising finding suggests that seeking social support may not always be helpful — particularly if talking about racism implies that the situation is unchangeable or if it causes a person distress by having to relive difficult experiences.
“What’s striking is we found that racism is still happening to Filipinos,” Alvarez says. “Therapists need to look beyond the frequent portrayal of Asian Americans as model minorities and help clients assess what their best coping strategy could be, depending on their resources, what’s feasible and who they could turn to for support.”
In a way, these findings are not surprising. From my own personal experiences, choosing to ignore a racist incident or being denied the opportunity to respond leads to a great deal of personal anxiety and private recrimination. I re-play the incident over and over in my head, trying to come up with different ways that I could have dealt with the situation differently. But, on the other hand, it takes a great deal of courage to confront someone about their racism.