Racism at the Intersections: Gender and Socioeconomic Differences in the Experience of Racism Among African Americans

Naa Oyo A. Kwate, Melody S. Goodman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Several studies investigating the health effects of racism have reported gender and socioeconomic differences in exposures to racism, with women typically reporting lower frequencies, and individuals with greater resources reporting higher frequencies. This study used diverse measures of socioeconomic position and multiple measures and methods to assess experienced racism. Socioeconomic position included education and financial and employment status. Quantitative racism measures assessed individual experiences with day-to-day and with major lifetime incidents and perceptions of the extent to which African Americans as a group experience racism. A brief qualitative question asked respondents to describe a racist incident that stood out in recent memory. Participants comprised a probability sample of N ± 144 African American adults aged 19 to 87 residing in New York City. Results suggested that women reported fewer lifetime incidents but did not differ from men on everyday racism. These differences appear to be partly because of scale content. Socioeconomic position as measured by years of education was positively associated with reported racism in the total sample but differently patterned across gender; subjective social status showed a negative association. Qualitative responses describing memorable incidents fell into 5 key categories: resources/opportunity structures, criminal profiling, racial aggression/assault, interpersonal incivilities, and stereotyping. In these narratives, men were more likely to offer accounts involving criminal profiling, and women encountered incivilities more often. The findings highlight the need for closer attention to the intersection of gender and socioeconomic factors in investigations of the health effects of racism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-408
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Orthopsychiatry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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