Does School Racial Composition Explain Why High Income Black Youth Perceive More Discrimination? A Gender Analysis.

Research paper by Shervin S Assari

Indexed on: 01 Aug '18Published on: 01 Aug '18Published in: Brain sciences


Recent research has documented poor mental health among high socioeconomic status (SES) Blacks, particularly African American males. The literature has also shown a positive link between SES and perceived discrimination, suggesting that perceived discrimination may explain why high SES Black males report poor mental health. To better understand the role of contextual factors in explaining this pattern, we aimed to test whether school racial composition explains why high income Black youth perceive more discrimination. We explored these associations by ethnicity and gender. Using data from the National Survey of American Life-Adolescent supplement (NSAL-A), the current study included 810 African American and 360 Caribbean Black youth, with a mean age of 15. Ethnicity, age, gender, income-to-needs ratio (SES), skin color, school racial composition, and perceived (daily) discrimination were measured. Using Stata 15.0 (Stata Corp., College Station, TX, USA), we fitted seven structural equation models (SEMs) for data analysis in the pooled sample based on the intersection of ethnicity and gender. Considerable gender by ethnicity variations were found in the associations between SES, school racial composition, and perceived discrimination. For African American males but not African American females or Caribbean Black males or females, school racial composition fully mediated the effect of SES on perceived discrimination. The role of inter-racial contact as a mechanism for high discrimination and poor mental health of Black American adolescents may depend on their intersection of ethnicity and gender. School racial composition may be a mechanism for increased perceived discrimination among high SES African American males.