“White People Stress Me Out All the Time”: Black Students Define Racial Trauma

Candice N. Hargons, Natalie Malone, Chesmore Montique, Jardin Dogan, Jennifer Stuck, Carolyn Meiller, Anyoliny Sanchez, Queen Ayanna Sullivan, Carrie Bohmer, Rena Curvey, Isaac Woods, Kenneth Tyler, Joseph Oluokun, Danelle Stevens-Watkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective: Using a constructivist–interpretivist paradigm and a Black feminist qualitative framework, this study investigated how Black students at a predominantly White university in the southeast defined racial trauma. Method: A purposive sample of 26 participants (10 men and 16 women, aged 18–27) participated in a semistructured interview about their definitions of race-based stress and racial trauma. Data analysis consisted of a six-phase inductive, latent thematic analysis. Researcher reflexivity, interviews, observations, and research memos contributed to trustworthiness. Results: Participants’ understandings of race-based stress and racial trauma-informed two composite definitions of racial trauma. Participants conceptualized racial trauma and race-based stress as related and identified three salient components of racial trauma: (a) “Sticking with”: temporal component, (b) “Suffering severely”: intensity component, and (c) “Repeating regularly”: frequency component. Conclusions: The findings of this study contribute to the existing literature by providing an academic and community definition of racial trauma grounded in the voices of Black collegians.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-57
Number of pages9
JournalCultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Psychological Association


  • Black students
  • Qualitative
  • Race-based stress
  • Racial trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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