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Online racial discrimination and the role of white bystanders.

, Sophie Trawalter, , Haley E. Johnson,

Abstract: Black college students attending historically and predominantly White institutions are increasingly encountering online racial discrimination. This exposure may increase psychological distress and undermine academic performance. Although White bystanders may be well-positioned to challenge racist posts, limited research has examined interventions to increase White students' willingness to confront online racial discrimination. The present study used multiple methodologies to characterize the nature and frequency of online racial discrimination college students face, understand its impact on Black students, and increase challenges to online discrimination among White bystanders. Study data include content scraped from campus-related social media platforms over a 3-month period, transcripts from 8 focus groups conducted separately with Black (n = 35) and White (n = 33) college students, and data from an online experiment with 402 White college students. Taken together, study findings indicated that Black students encounter online racial discrimination with nontrivial frequency and are harmed by this exposure. Black students noted, however, that harm is mitigated when online racial discrimination is challenged by their White peers. Further, findings indicated that White students may be more likely to publicly confront racist posts if they (a) are aware of the harm it causes their Black peers; (b) perceive social norms that support confronting discrimination; and (c) receive guidance on what to say. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
Keywords: White / racial discrimination / Black / online racial / racist posts / confront / students

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