Coping with racial discrimination: Coping strategies, critical ethnic awareness, and psychosocial resources for Asian Americans


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Despite rapid growth of the Asian Americans population in recent decades, less research exists on racial discrimination of Asian Americans than of other minority groups. Past studies have not explored how Asian Americans nativity status influences coping with racial discrimination. This study examined the protective roles of emotional support, critical ethnic awareness, and coping strategies on the impact of racial discrimination on depression among Asian Americans using four hypotheses in racial discrimination context. Four hundred ten Asian American adult respondents completed an online survey administered in June and July of 2010. The Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) served as the outcome measure to assess for respondents’ depressive symptom level. Five sets of factors were considered: 1) discrimination; 2) social support; 3) critical ethnic awareness; 4) general coping style; and 5) racism-specific coping strategies. Three hundred eighty four cases were available for hierarchical regression analyses, with each of the five factor sets added in successive analyses. The results reported were controlled for relevant socio-demographic factors. The results indicated that being perceived as a perpetual foreigner was associated with depressive symptoms among Asian Americans in this study sample. The findings also indicated that emotional support from friends and family and thinking about self in social context were associated with the depression score. Additionally, general discrimination experience was associated with the depression score among the immigrant subgroup, while perception as a perpetual foreigner was associated with the depression score among the U.S.-born subgroup. The findings demonstrated that being perceived as a perpetual foreigner is an independently significant stress beyond racial discrimination in general among U.S.-born Asian Americans. The results suggest that racial coping strategies may not buffer beyond general coping mechanisms in protecting Asian Americans from depressive symptoms. Future research must take into consideration nativity status when examining the relationship between racial discrimination and depressive symptoms in the Asian American population. Additionally, researchers and practitioners must examine what type of coping styles and/or strategies would best benefit Asian Americans in buffering the impact against racial discrimination experiences.

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