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Title:A historical and intersectional analysis of discrimination and relationship functioning among Black Americans
Author(s):Rice, Tekisha Monet
Director of Research:Ogolsky, Brian G
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Ogolsky, Brian G
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Jarrett, Robin; McNeil Smith, Shardé; Barton, Allen; Jordan, Tera H
Department / Program:Human Dvlpmt & Family Studies
Discipline:Human Dvlpmt & Family Studies
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Dating
Marriage
Racial Discrimination
Abstract:Over 40 million individuals in the United States identify as Black or African American (US Census, 2017) and maintain a unique social history as forced migrants subjected to enslavement. Discourse around racial disparities indicates that Black Americans are less likely to marry (Cherlin, 2010) and experience poorer health (Mays, Cochran, & Barnes, 2007). Notably, racial discrimination is a daily and chronic stressor (Boss, Bryant, & Mancini, 2017; Peters & Massey, 1983) that threatens the relational, physical, and psychological wellbeing of African Americans (Bryant, Wickrama, Bolland, Bryant, Cutrona, & Stanik, 2010; Dolezsar, McGrath, Herzig, & Miller, 2014; Priest, McNeil Smith, Woods, & Roberson, 2020). However, little is known about conditions and processes by which the macro-social historical context of slavery and microsocial contemporary experiences of racial discrimination impact relational and personal wellbeing. This set of studies examined how perceptions of the macro-social historical context of slavery and intersecting social positions influenced how racial discrimination is linked with relationship functioning. Study 1. The historical context of Black Americans’ enslavement in the US was examined as contributing to experiences within romantic relationships. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with 14 individuals in romantic relationships. The primary research question explored how the historical context of slavery influenced contemporary romantic relationship dynamics? Data were analyzed using thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006). The findings covered five themes: comparing social climates, assumptions about Black relationships, the discrimination triad, an opportunity to respond, and valuing and celebrating Black love. Contemporary experiences of discrimination were a filter that echoed the historical devaluing and mistreatment of Black individuals and their relationships. Partners’ interactions around discrimination were critical opportunities to offer support. Study 2. Financial strain and gender were examined as intersecting social locations that contribute to the associations between racial discrimination and relational and personal wellbeing. The analytic sample included 390 married individuals from the Survey of Midlife in the United States (MIDUS). This study used measures of discrimination, personal wellbeing (life satisfaction, psychological wellbeing), relational wellbeing (relationship quality, relationship instability), and socioeconomic status (income, financial strain). Results indicated main effects of gender and financial strain. Women reported lower levels of relational wellbeing and financial strain was associated with poorer personal wellbeing. These studies highlight the nuanced role of racial discrimination as a social stressor in African Americans’ romantic relationships. Given that racial discrimination represents a significant risk factor for multiple facets of African Americans’ lives, the results of these studies may help scholars better understand how relationships become a site for resisting and overcoming racial discrimination.
Issue Date:2021-06-22
Type:Thesis
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/113252
Rights Information:Copyright 2021 Tekisha Rice
Date Available in IDEALS:2022-01-12
Date Deposited:2021-08


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