The effect of racial microaggressions on Latinas: student perceptions, reactions, and coping mechanisms
Interpersonal racial discrimination is positively associated with poor mental health outcomes in a number of marginalized groups across the United States (Brondolo, et al., 2008). This paper examines how racial discrimination affects the self-esteem, self-worth, and racial pride of Latinas using interview data from a purposive sample of students. The objectives of this study are: (a) to better understand the effects of racial microaggressions on young Latinas’ construction of self, (b) to explicate how these self-perceptions influence deviant behavior and maladaptive thought processes, drawing on strain and discrimination literatures, and (c) to examine the protective mechanisms Latinas employ with friends and family as a response to racial discrimination. Findings indicated that respondents experienced racial discrimination through a variety of channels, from negative stereotypes to feeling a distinct prejudice in academic settings. Participants utilized numerous coping mechanisms to deal with such encounters, most of which emphasized the importance of drawing strength from Hispanic values, culture, and language during times of adversity.