"Assume the position... you fit the description": Psychosocial experiences and racial battle fatigue among African American male college students

  • Smith W
  • Allen W
  • Danley L
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The present study examines the experiences of 36 Black male students, in focus group interviews, enrolled at Harvard University; Michigan State University; University of California, Berkeley; University of Illinois; and the University of Michigan. Two themes emerged: (a) anti-Black male stereotyping and marginality (or Black misandry), which caused (b) extreme hypersurveillance and control. Respondents experienced racial microaggressions in three domains: (a) campus–academic, (b) campus–social, and (c) campus–public spaces. Black males are stereotyped and placed under increased surveillance by community and local policing tactics on and off campus. Across these domains, Black males were defined as being “out of place” and “fitting the description” of illegitimate nonmembers of the campus community. Students reported psychologi- cal stress responses symptomatic of racial battle fatigue (e.g., frustration, shock, anger, disappointment, resentment, anxiety, helplessness, hopelessness, and fear). There was unanimous agreement in the subjective reports that the college environment was more hostile toward African American males than other groups. Keywords:

Author-supplied keywords

  • Black/African American males
  • College campus
  • Race-related stress
  • Racial microaggressions
  • Racism (gendered)
  • Stereotypes

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  • William A. Smith

  • Walter R. Allen

  • Lynette L. Danley

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