Ignoring Racism Can Increase Distress

SAN FRANCISCO, April 2 (UPI) — Denying or ignoring racial discrimination can increase the psychological distress caused by racism, a study of Filipino-American men and women found.

Alvin Alvarez, professor of counseling at San Francisco State University, said “everyday racism” — subtle, commonplace forms of discrimination, such as being ignored, ridiculed or treated differently — may seem innocent and trivial, but cumulatively can have a significant impact on an individual’s mental health.


“Trying to ignore these insidious incidents could become taxing and debilitating over time, chipping away at a person’s spirit,” Alvarez said in a statement. “We found that when people deny or trivialize racist encounters, they can actually make themselves feel worse, amplifying the distress caused by the incident.”

Alvarez surveyed 199 Filipino-American men and women in the San Francisco Bay Area and found that 99 percent had experienced at least one incident of everyday racism in the past year. Confiding in friends and family increased men’s psychological distress and lowered their self-esteem, the study found.

The study, published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology, found women ignoring racism resulted in increased distress, but no significant correlation was found between active coping methods or confiding in others.

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