What are some personal issues of internalized oppression that African Americans have to overcome?

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Jessica Pope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One psychological problems African-Americans face is the stereotype threat. The stereotype threat is the anxiety and pressure that African-Americans and other racial minorities feel when they perform in domains where a negative stereotype is associated with their race. African-Americans experience the stereotype threat when taking standardized tests such as the SAT, because there is a negative stereotype that African-Americans are less intelligent than other racial groups. The pressure and anxiety arise from a desire to not conform to this stereotype.

Paradoxically, the internal pressure African-American test-takers feel -- a pressure that arises from their strong desire not to conform to the negative stereotype -- has the effect of lowering test performance rather than raising it. The stereotype threat also influences African-Americans' performance in career, academic, and social settings.

Other personal issues that African-Americans may face include: negative esteem over body image, lack of self-confidence, and difficulty asserting or self-advocating in institutional settings. These difficulties can have far ranging implications for African-Americans' overall wellness and quality of life. For example, if a person has difficulty self-advocating in the health care setting, he may receive substandard care. If a person has difficulty maneuvering the institutional settings of higher education, it will be difficult to perform well in that setting.