Perceptions of Racism and Depressive Symptoms in African America Adolescents: The Role of Perceived Academic and Social Control
by Sharon F Lambert; Keith C Herman; Mia Smith Bynum; Nicholas S Ialongo

This article gives an account of a longitudinal study of 500 middle school students from the Baltimore area that focused on the correlation between racism and the mental health of African American adolescents. The present study hypothesized that exposure to racism results in adolescent depressive symptoms through two ways: (1) the direct impact on adolescents’ perception of control (2) its impact on adolescents’ perception.

Students were interviewed annually for three years and the answers from the interview questions were studied. The study states that items involving perceived racism were drawn from the Racism and Life Experiences Scales. A control scale was used for the adolescents to respond to items asking about their sense of control over academic areas in life. Another scale was used to determine the adolescent's depressive symptoms. This scale used was called the Baltimore How I Feel-Adolescent Version.

Structural equation modeling was used by the researchers to evaluate the hypotheses.  Then the results were evaluated using chi-square, the comparative fit index (CFI), and the root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA).

The study explains how experiences with racism was associated with depressive symptoms as well as low self-esteem among African American adolescents. It shows that the experiences that these youth have, whether it be their socioeconomic status or ongoing discrimination, greatly affect how they view themselves. A continuous reminder of their perceived racial inferiority increases the risk for depressive symptoms.

According to this article, control is an individual’s capacity to produce a desired outcome, and at the low end of the continuum reflects a perception of personal helplessness to achieve outcomes. If an adolescent is continuously exposed to racism and discrimination may decrease their sense of control because, in their eyes, this is the consensus in society.

In class we have discussed examples of discrimination and prejudice.  This article further illustrates the effects discrimination can have on others.  One begins to feel inferior and loses their sense of control.