Examine of Black Women Identity how it is impacted by lived experiences of racism

Examine of Black Women Identity how it is impacted by lived experiences of racism

Examine of Black Women Identity how it is impacted by lived experiences of racism, health inequities and using forgiveness as a coping skill for counseling


Racism produces negative consequences in the physical and psychological health of an individual. It involves negative beliefs, action, and emotion based on race of a person. The challenge is more pronounced among African Americans in the United States. The situation is worse for Black women as they face racism individually and within many institutions such as education, housing employment, political, social, criminal justice, and health arena. Therefore, it is important to understand how this group of the population deals with the challenge and the impact it has on their lives. The aim of this study is to get an understanding of How Black Women identity and health is affected by the experiences of racism. It will integrate strategies that the community can use to overcome the problem such as forgiveness and prayer in a religious context. Forgiveness restores the self-esteem of all the concerned parties. There have been numerous written and recorded studies about racism based on social and biological sciences. The adverse effects of the practice can be felt in all spheres of social structure, which requires black women to practice forgiveness to overcome issues related to racism. Therefore, it is important to examine the impact of racism on Black Women identity, health inequities, and the use of forgiveness through Jesus Christ as a coping skill for counseling.

Keyword, Racism, Forgiveness, identity, self-esteem

Examine of Black Women Identity how it is impacted by lived Experiences of Racism, Health Inequities and using Forgiveness as a Coping Skill for Counseling


Interpersonal hurts occur regularly due to emotional and physical abuse or due to conflicts in families. The hurt individuals become angry and hostile towards the people who offend them. In most cases, they develop negative emotions towards the offender and may desire to revenge. The hurt individuals also get stressed by the events taking place in their lives and develop related conditions such as hypertension and depression. African Americans in the United States experience these challenges due to racism. While the problem is prevalent among most minority communities, it is worse among black women. Some racial experiences cause lead to physical and mental illnesses among minority groups. Therefore, it is critical to encourage hurt individuals to overcome anger and solve the issues with the offender legally or through forgiveness.

Literature Review

According to Pieterse and Carter (2010), psychologists and mental professionals are studying the complex issues associated with health disparities. One area of interest is the role of race and culture in physical and mental health issues. Various forms of racism are barriers to adequate care for oppressed racial groups such as African Americans. The writers also argue that cultural variables such as ethnic identity are health determinants. An examination of health disparities across racial groups shows that there is a significant difference between whites and blacks. In fact, African Americans are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes compared to their white American counterparts. The main cause of these disparities is racial discrimination that affects African Americans directly. As a result, they are not likely to receive timely treatment of cancer and other related disorders. Therefore, it is crucial to propose remedies that can help the community overcome the barriers.

Various forms of racism impact the health of African American women in the US negatively. Some of the common ones are social and institutional racism. Pieterse and Carter (2010) show that racial discrimination has a significant influence on the lives of black American women. Their study shows that African Americans experience mental and physical health challenges due to racial discrimination (Pieterse & Carter, 2010). The ethnic inequalities in the country affect African American women more than their male counterparts. They associate racism with low-esteem, depression, and hypertension among sections of the African American population. An analysis of the two forms of racial discrimination will prove that they negatively affect the health of African Americans.  

Residential Segregation

Residential segregation is a form of social discrimination that takes racial connotations. It is common to find Americans living in racially structured neighborhoods. According to Bailey et al., (2017), residential segregation indicates that there is a deliberate exclusion of specific members of society based on race. Most of the neighborhoods that house African Americans have dilapidated housing. The environment exposes them to pollutants and toxins that cause diseases. These areas also experience limited opportunities in education, decent employment, and access to quality health-care (Bailey et al., 2017). Their white counterparts do not have similar experiences, which confers them better chances in life. Therefore, inequalities make African Americans live in specific areas that increase their chances of developing mental and physical illness.

 According to Pieterse and Carter (2010), African American Women are the most disadvantaged population groups. The trend is attributable to social factors such as role strain, long-term experiences with poverty, and the merger of race and gender oppression. The social discrimination of black women makes it difficult for them to access healthcare services. In addition. health-promoting resources are inadequately invested while infrastructure and services are inequitably distributed. The inequitable distribution of resources exposes the black communities to racially biased services that increase their chances of acquiring mental and physical conditions.  

Bailey et al. (2017) support the idea that African Americans are segregated in the provision of healthcare services. The writers also suggest that other disciplines such as medicine, housing, human resources, and public health support the idea of the discrimination of the African American community. Their study supports the idea that racial segregation causes mental and physical health challenges. Although most of the literature on the subject focuses on African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders also face the wrath of health-harming racial discrimination. Therefore, most minority groups in the United States face discrimination in the provision of healthcare services.


According to Toussaint, Worthington, and Williams (2015), forgiveness is one best approach to reduce physical and mental illnesses caused by racial discrimination. They argue that action reduces ailments through stress reduction. The ability to return quickly to baseline blood pressure and heart rate levels after a stressor is an indicator of successful coping with stress. The authors found that forgiveness was associated with lower blood pressure and heart rate. On the other hand, failure to forgive is associated with stress and hostility, among other self-reported illnesses. Toussaint et al. (2015) also argue that personal attachments are essential traits in creating a forgiveness environment. It reveals that emotional bonds between friends, partners, and lovers hasten the chances of getting amnesty. Therefore, forgiveness is a critical tool in healing broken relationships among African American women.  

According to Akhtar, Dolan, and Barlow (2017), there is a relationship between forgiveness and mental health issues. The study found that some factors can modify the correlation between the two. The development is critical for various stakeholders such as policymakers, health-care professionals, and other stakeholders interested in providing quality public health. Most of the individuals sampled for the study had religious and secular groups backgrounds. The research finds that unforgiving creates barriers to social and psychological growth and reduction in cognitive abilities. More importantly, it notes that the majority of the participants developed strong ties between state forgiveness and their health. It was common to find individuals who like forgiving regularly to enjoy positive emotions, spiritual growth, positive relations with others, and a greater sense of empowerment. The writers conclude that these feelings make it possible for forgiving people to be less anxious, stressed, and depressed. Therefore, individuals that forgive others enjoy a higher quality life as they have good mental health.   

The African American community has had many challenges in its history in the United States. Taylor (2018) argues that it is possible for the community to engage in healing processes that produce personal, relational, communal, societal, and global restoration. The study establishes the theological tools, strategies, and skills that can help it deal with trauma and brokenness it has experienced. Taylor (2018) argues that it is possible to use faith to start the process of reconciliation and healing to foster wholeness and renewal of society. He insists that the healing process is a duty of the community because they are the only people who understand the pain they went through. Therefore, African Americans are well placed as agents of transformation, restoration, and social justice to overcome all the challenges that their history gives them.

Racial identity is used to discriminate against African Americans but they can use the experience to alleviate their problems. Ethnic identity is a critical topic in history in the US but it affects some groups positively and others negatively. Therefore, Grant (2018) suggests that it is crucial to understand the meaning of love and forgiveness. He argues that feminists think that love and forgiveness are understood from a patriarchal perspective. Grant (2018) argues that it is not possible to use the experiences of one group to make conclusions about other communities. It is their opinion that the lessons of the white theologians cannot teach forgiveness to the African American congregation and vice versa. Grant (2018) also argues that the experiences of African American males cannot be used to generate opinions about African American women. Therefore, most theologies do not present an accurate picture of the black community because they use the wrong information to make conclusions about the group.

Grant (2018) states that the way white people represent belief is different from the way African American males think about faith. Black feminists have a different view about theology that they believe they must include the opinion of men and women to be holistic. The use of religion to solve racial issues may be problematic in some sections of society, which may view it as a way of hiding the truth. However, studies indicate that the person who is hurt may suffer from an unforgiving behavior than the offender. Grant (2018) suggests that it is crucial to develop a theological perspective that provides for men and women from all backgrounds. Therefore, the racial identity that people use to discriminate against black populations can also be used to guide the forgiveness process

According to Toussaint et al. (2018), self-forgiveness and the forgiveness of others are critical in physical and mental healing. The writers support the assertion that individuals can use forgiveness to moderate hostility on cognitive function. More importantly, self-forgiveness makes it easy for people to forego self-condemnation and appreciate the need to work towards self-improvement (Toussaint et al., 2018). It is essential to consider making reparation because hostility leads to self-condemning emotions such as suicidal thoughts (Toussaint et al., 2018). Moreover, forgiveness reduces negative thoughts, feelings, and actions towards an offender. Therefore, it is important to encourage an individual hurt by another person to consider forgiving them because both parties would benefit.

According to Hatch et al. (2016), a prayer is a useful tool in healing physical, relational, and psychological conditions. The writer uses a sample of various religious groups to investigate the role of worship in nurturing relationships among married couples. They conclude that prayer is a catalyst for change because it encourages positivity and humility, and facilitates understanding and communication among couples. In most cases, individuals are continually praying for the development of virtues such as patience, selflessness, or increased understanding of the desires of their partners. Therefore, prayer facilitates the development of humility and a positive attitude towards others.

Prayer generates hope and optimism during stressful periods. According to Hatch et al. (2016), people who believe in a supernatural being fix their problems through hope and optimism (Jankowski & Sandage, 2011). In such a case, prayer may alleviate interpersonal forgiveness and eradicate negative emotions. Hatch et al. (2016), notes that individuals interested in improving their relationship made efforts to strengthen their character. In this case, they are likely to speak to God through a mutual understanding of the parties, which makes it hard for them to hurt others. The experience may have more impact on couples as they are likely to build a long-lasting friendship that creates a harmonious coexistence in the family. Therefore, prayer is an appropriate strategy to address psychological problems generated by racism.



The participants will be black women in different neighborhoods within the reach of the University. I will take a sample of 100 adults aged between 18 and 70 years old. They may be employed or unemployed and from all social economic conditions as long as they have a racism encounter at some point in their lives. The study will include various levels of education such as diploma, high school, graduate, and post-graduate citizens. They must also indicate their religious affiliation and ethnicity among other considerations. The appropriate tool for use is a Health Perception Questionnaires (HPQ) with a seven-item measure taken from the Medical Outcomes Study.

The present qualitative research will analyze the stories of participants to form a framework. The research questions aim to capture the experiences of Black Women in the United States and how they cope with racial discrimination. It will seek to understand how segregation impacts their identity and influence their perception about life. After the initial interviews, the study will have a discussion session involving numerous groups. The classification of the groups will be according to the opinion of the various teams about the use of forgiveness as a counseling tool.

The discussion session will assist in understanding how the participants view forgiveness and how they can use their faith to achieve it. In most religions, the ability to forgive is a mark of spiritual maturity (Toussaint & William et al., 2015). In some cases, the interview will use the stories of other individuals. Some may be close relatives of interviewees who can tell the account on behalf of their siblings. It also essential to address questions that may emerge such as,

What is likely to happen once the narrative is complete?

What is the role of stories in the black community?

Who went through the forgiveness process and what was the impact in as far as social psychology and mental wellbeing are concerned?

The questions provide a platform for the researcher to base their analysis of individual stories and their influence on social support.


The researcher adopted a qualitative research design to examine the relationship between forgiveness, mental, and physical health outcomes for African American women. The research shows the role of forgiveness in maintaining good mental health, but it also demonstrates a need to explore other possible areas that can benefit.  The study will conduct interviews and group discussions to address the research questions exhaustively. Interviews will be conducted individually while groups will have five participants. It will achieve this objective by listening to the narratives of all participants to understand the relationship between their psychological wellbeing and their faith (forgiving) (Davis & Westbrook, 2015).

For this research, data collection is through in-depth interviews. The interviews are unstructured and personal, with the sole purpose of identifying the emotions and feelings of the participants. Direct interviews are advantageous because they give the interviewee and the interviewer the chance to meet thereby eliminating the no-response rates. By the time they carry out the interview, interviewers must have the skills to conduct them so that the response can give accurate information. The unstructured interviews are also essential because they provide the interviewer with the freedom to review the flow of the questions to make the process smooth. One of the risks that this method has is that the interviewer may depart from the original aims and objective of the research. However, proper training can help keep the focus on the initial issues.

Limitations of the study

One of the main challenges that may arise is how to generalize the results of the study to a large population after using a sample from a single region in the United States. Given that the sample is from a single area of the country, it is difficult to convince the whole population that the findings of the survey are conclusive. It is possible to experience over or underreporting about racial discrimination from different people for various reasons (Ary et al., 2018). Some may feign ignorance for fear of losing their jobs or because they are beneficiary of an unjust system. The focus on discrimination and stress as causes of mental health may direct the participants to respond in a particular manner.


Akhtar, S., Dolan, A., & Barlow, J. (2017). Understanding the relationship between state forgiveness and psychological wellbeing: A qualitative study. Journal of Religion and Health, 56(2), 450-463.

Ary, D., Jacobs, L. C., Irvine, C. K. S., & Walker, D. (2018). Introduction to research in education. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning. 

Bailey, Z. D., Krieger, N., Agénor, M., Graves, J., Linos, N., & Bassett, M. T. (2017). Structural racism and health inequities in the USA: Evidence and interventions. The Lancet, 389(10077), 1453-1463.

Burrow, A. L., & Ong, A. D. (2010). Racial identity as a moderator of daily exposure and reactivity to racial discrimination. Self and Identity, 9(4), 383-402.

Grant, J. (2018). Womanist theology: Black women’s experience as a source for doing theology, with special reference to Christology. Journal of the Interdenominational Theological Center, 13(2), 10.

Hatch, T. G., Marks, L. D., Bitah, E. A., Lawrence, M., Lambert, N. M., Dollahite, D. C., & Hardy, B. P. (2016). The power of prayer in transforming individuals and marital relationships: A qualitative examination of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim families. Review of Religious Research, 58(1), 27-46.

Jankowski, P. J., & Sandage, S. J. (2011). Meditative prayer, hope, adult attachment, and forgiveness: A proposed model. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 3(2), 115-131.

Pieterse, A. L., & Carter, R. T. (2010). An exploratory investigation of the relationship between racism, racial identity, perceptions of health, and health locus of control among Black American women. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 21(1), 334-348.

Taylor, G. R. (2018). The black reconciliation: Finding restoration through healing circles in a racialized world.

Toussaint, L. L., Worthington, E. L. J., & Williams, D. R. (2015). Forgiveness and health. Springer Netherlands.

Toussaint, L. L., Shields, G. S., Green, E., Kennedy, K., Travers, S., & Slavich, G. M. (2018). Hostility, forgiveness, and cognitive impairment over 10 years in a national sample of American adults. Health Psychology, 37(12), 1102.

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