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Perceptions of Racism in Hurricane Katrina-Related Events: Implications for Collective Guilt and Mental Health Among White Americans

Authors


  • This research was supported by Louisiana Board of Regents Grant LEQSF (2007-10)-RD-A-31 to Laurie O’Brien. The authors wish to thank Patricia Gilbert, Cheryl Kaiser, Lisa Molix, Michael Schmitt, Janet Ruscher, and Carrie Wyland for helpful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.

Alison Blodorn or Laurie T. O’Brien, Department of Psychology, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 [e-mails: ablodorn@tulane.edu, lobrien2@tulane.edu].

Abstract

Perceptions of racism against African Americans can result in negative mental health outcomes among African Americans (e.g., Klonoff, Landrine, & Ullman, 1999); however, it is less clear how perceptions of racism against African Americans affect White Americans. The present study examines the relationship between perceptions of racism against African Americans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and negative mental health outcomes among a sample highly impacted by the disaster—White community residents of New Orleans. Perceptions of racism against African Americans were associated with negative mental health outcomes, even after controlling for demographic variables and disaster exposure. Furthermore, feelings of collective guilt mediated the relationship between perceptions of racism and negative mental health outcomes.

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