The African American Psyche, 1865-Present: An Overview

Claude Steele*, Jennifer Richeson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


There are multiple possible views of the Black American psyche. But in the science that focuses on the psyche, the science of psychology, there has really been only variants of one view: the Black psyche is "damaged" to use Daryl Scott's term, in deficit, dominated by self-hatred, infected with self-destructive values and habits of mind, a double consciousness divided against itself, replete with cognitive, linguistic, and emotional deficiencies, and so on. This narrowness of perspective, as reflected in this article, is not restricted to psychology. It is a long evolved cultural framework. Much of the research that has focused squarely on blacks' experiences has examined the potential psychological toll that membership in a socially devalued group may take on black Americans. Although this research is undoubtedly important and informative, it is a perspective that is overrepresented compared with work examining the resilience and strength of blacks and members of other socially devalued groups in the face of group-level devaluation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of African American Citizenship, 1865-Present
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199940974
ISBN (Print)9780195188059
StatePublished - Sep 18 2012


  • African American psyche
  • Black Americans
  • Cultural framework
  • Devalued groups
  • Group-level devaluation
  • Resilience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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