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Interpersonal Racial Discrimination, Ethnic-racial Socialization, and Offending: Risk and Resilience among African American Females

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Evidence is accumulating that interpersonal racial discrimination is criminogenic and ethnic-racial socialization (ERS) practices provide resilience. This research, however, has largely focused on black males. We address this gap by exploring these risk and resilience processes among black females. Drawing on Simons and Burt’s social schematic theory and research on adaptive cultural practices in African American families, this study investigates how interpersonal racial discrimination increases the risks of crime among females and whether familial ERS provides resilience. After focusing on females, we also compare the findings among females to those for males to shed light on gender differences. We examine these questions using panel data from the Family and Community Health Study, a survey of black families first surveyed in 1999 and at roughly two-year intervals thereafter. Consistent with prior work, we find a strong effect of racial discrimination on an increase in crime, with the bulk of this effect being mediated by the criminogenic knowledge structure. Although one of the two forms of ERS examined—cultural socialization—did not reduce the criminogenic effects of racial discrimination, preparation for bias exerted a strong protective effect. Comparing the findings to that for males revealed that preparation for bias attenuated the criminogenic effects of racial discrimination for both males and females, but it did so in gendered ways. This study fills a gap in our understanding of the criminogenic effects of discrimination among black females, supporting a social schematic theory’s explanation of the effects of racial discrimination on crime. In addition, findings highlight protective cultural practices in African American families, especially preparation for bias.
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Interpersonal Racial Discrimination,
Ethnic-racial Socialization, and Offending:
Risk and Resilience among African
American Females
Callie H. Burt and Ronald L. Simons
Evidence is accumulating that interpersonal racial discrimination is crimino-
genic and ethnic-racial socialization (ERS) practices provide resilience. This
research, however, has largely focused on black males. We address this gap by
exploring these risk and resilience processes among black females. Drawing on
Simons and Burt’s social schematic theory and research on adaptive cultural
practices in African American families, this study investigates how interper-
sonal racial discrimination increases the risks of crime among females and
whether familial ERS provides resilience. After focusing on females, we also
compare the findings among females to those for males to shed light on gen-
der differences. We examine these questions using panel data from the Family
and Community Health Study, a survey of black families first surveyed in 1999
and at roughly two-year intervals thereafter. Consistent with prior work, we
find a strong effect of racial discrimination on an increase in crime, with the
bulk of this effect being mediated by the criminogenic knowledge structure.
Although one of the two forms of ERS examinedcultural socializationdid
not reduce the criminogenic effects of racial discrimination, preparation for
bias exerted a strong protective effect. Comparing the findings to that for
Callie Burt is an Assistant Professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and a Faculty
Affiliate of the Gender and Women’s Studies Program at Arizona State University. Her research
focuses on criminological theories, with particular emphasis on elucidating the social psychological
mechanisms through which social factors, such as racial discrimination, community crime, parent-
ing practices, and life transitions, influence criminal offending across the life course. Her work has
recently appeared in the American Journal of Sociology, the American Sociological Review, and
Criminology. Ronald L. Simons is a Foundation Professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal
Justice at Arizona State University and a Fellow in the Institute for Behavioral Research at the Uni-
versity of Georgia. Much of his research has focused on the manner in which family, peer, and
community factors combine to influence deviant behavior across the life course. He has also com-
pleted work on domestic violence and the effect of racial discrimination on child development.
Recent work has appeared in the American Sociological Review, Criminology, and the Journal of
Marriage and Family. His papers have won awards from the National Conference on Family Rela-
tions and the American Criminal Justice Society. Correspondence to: Callie Burt, 411 N Central
Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85004, USA. E-mail: chburt@asu.edu
JUSTICE QUARTERLY, 2015
Vol. 32, No. 3, 532–570, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07418825.2013.781205
!2013 Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences
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males revealed that preparation for bias attenuated the criminogenic effects
of racial discrimination for both males and females, but it did so in gendered
ways. This study fills a gap in our understanding of the criminogenic effects of
discrimination among black females, supporting a social schematic theory’s
explanation of the effects of racial discrimination on crime. In addition,
findings highlight protective cultural practices in African American families,
especially preparation for bias.
Keywords racial discrimination; ethnic-racial socialization; gender; race;
social schemas
Despite being largely ignored for years as a possible explanation for racial dis-
parities in offending, recent work evinces that interpersonal racial discrimina-
tion is criminogenic (e.g. Burt, Simons, & Gibbons, 2012; Unnever & Gabbidon,
2011). In contrast to contextual explanations that focus on macro-social pat-
terns of residential inequality (e.g. Massey & Denton, 1993; McNulty & Bellair,
2003; Sampson & Wilson, 1995), these recent works take a micro-sociological
approach, viewing the race–crime linkage from a social psychological lens that
highlights the salience of racial inequality in the form of interpersonal racial
discrimination as well as the impact of these interactions on world views (e.g.
Simons, Chen, Stewart, & Brody, 2003).
Unfortunately, however, this research has largely focused on males. Given
the incendiary criminalblackman stereotype (Russell-Brown, 2009) and the dis-
proportionate rates of both offending and victimization among African
American males, attending to the discrimination–crime link among black males
is warranted. Neither racial discrimination nor offending, however, is a male
problem. Both black males and females experience racial discrimination
(e.g. Jackson et al., 1996). Moreover, although research on offending among
African American females is relatively sparse (e.g. Rice, 1990), evidence
suggests that black females commit street offenses at significantly higher rate
than white females (e.g. Laub & McDermott, 1985; Simpson, 1991; Tracy,
Wolfgang, & Figlio, 1991).
1
A number of excellent works have shed light on
offending among black females, highlighting the unique pressures faced by this
population (e.g. Lewis, 1981; Simpson, 1991); yet, the role of interpersonal
racial discrimination has been relatively understudied. The present study takes
a step towards remedying this neglect, focusing attention on the criminogenic
effects of racial discrimination among African American females. We explore
whether and how personal experiences with racial discrimination increase the
likelihood of offending among black females.
In addition to exploring these risk processes, we also examine sources of
resilience. Recognizing the persistence of racial discrimination as well as the
strength of racial minorities in the face of such harms, scholars have identified
1. We use “African American” and “black” interchangeably throughout the paper.
DISCRIMINATION, ERS AND GENDER 533
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facets of African American culture that promote resilience (e.g. Stevenson,
Reed, Bodison, & Bishop, 1997; Ward, 1996). In contrast to earlier and mis-
guided “cultural deficit” approaches, these more recent efforts have high-
lighted adaptive features of African American culture that reduce or
counteract some of the harmful effects of racism (e.g. Bowman & Howard,
1985; Essed, 1991). Tacitly adopting a conceptualization of culture as a “tool-
kit” that serves as an interpretive frame and a guide for action (Kirk & Papa-
christos, 2011; Swindler, 1986), this “strength” perspective identifies facets of
African American culture that promote resilience. Ethnic-racial socialization
(ERS) has been identified as a key cultural practice providing racial minority
youth with strategic tools and support for dealing with societal racism (e.g.
Fischer & Shaw, 1999; Stevenson, 1994). Over the past several decades, an
impressive body of work has established that the socialization of proactive,
prosocial responses to discrimination among black families and communities
through ERS promotes resilience and enables African American youth to avoid
coping with racism maladaptive ways (e.g. Hughes et al., 2006; Stevenson,
2003). Particularly important for the present investigation, a recent study of
African American males found that ERS reduces the criminogenic effects of
interpersonal racial discrimination (Burt et al., 2012).
2
We build directly on
these findings, examining whether and how ERS protects against the effects of
racial discrimination among African American females. In addition, the present
study compares the findings for females and males to contribute to our under-
standing of gender differences in these processes.
In sum, this study addresses the gender imbalance in the literature, grap-
pling with an important question in an understudied population, by examining
the link between interpersonal racial discrimination and offending among
African American females. In doing so, we highlight interpersonal racial dis-
crimination as a potent criminogenic risk factor contributing to racial dispari-
ties in crime. To link discrimination experiences to offending, we draw upon a
recently developed social schematic perspective, which theorizes the process
through which social factors, such as racial discrimination, influence general
offending through cognitive knowledge structures (Simons & Burt, 2011). We
also explore the protective effects of two forms of ERScultural socialization
and preparation for biasbuilding explicitly on a study of African American
males (Burt et al., 2012).
In the following pages, we discuss interpersonal racial discrimination,
offending, and ERS. This is followed by a discussion of how sex/gender may
influence the processes under consideration. Next, we test our hypotheses
using several waves of data from a sample of several hundred African American
females from the Family and Community Health Study (FACHS), a survey of
2. Burt and colleagues (2012) noted that preliminary work indicated quantitative and qualitative
sex/gender differences, and, rather than pooling males and females and potentially glossing over
important gender differences or nuances, they restricted their study to males.
534 BURT AND SIMONS
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black families from Iowa and Georgia.
3
With its developmental focus and
wealth of familial information, the FACHS is particularly well suited for testing
the focal processes under consideration.
Racial Discrimination, Gender, and Crime
While differences are magnified by racial biases in the criminal justice system
(e.g. Russell-Brown, 2009; Walker, Spohn, & DeLone, 2011), evidence from
self-report and victimization studies indicates that African Americans engage
in higher rates of street crime than do whites (e.g. Hawkins, Laub, Lauritsen,
& Cothern, 2000; Huizinga & Elliott, 1987). Although black female offending
has received considerably less attention than that for males (e.g. Rice, 1990),
studies show that black females, like their male counterparts, engage in higher
rates of street offenses than white females (e.g. Laub & McDermott, 1985;
Simpson, 1991). Although more research is needed, the broad theme emerging
from this work is that racial disparities in offending exist for males and
females, with the disparities being larger for violent crimes (e.g. Laub &
McDermott, 1985).
Sociological explanations for racial disparities in offending have shifted sig-
nificantly over the past several decades. Early social explanations relied on the
existence of deviant subcultures (e.g. Curtis, 1975; Wolfgang & Ferracuti,
1967), but in more recent years scholarship has moved away from culture- and
victim-blaming explanations towards nuanced structural approaches, which
emphasize the role of structural constraints (e.g. Massey & Denton, 1993;
Sampson & Wilson, 1995). These contextual explanations focus on variations in
crime rates across communities that differ in ethnic-racial composition as a
result of racialized structural processes, such as unemployment and housing
discrimination. In this approach, race is a “[marker] for a constellation of
external and malleable social contexts that are differentially allocated by
racial and ethnic status in society” (Sampson, Morenoff, & Raudenbush, 2005,
p. 224).
While most early social explanations of racial disparities in offending tacitly
or explicitly focused on males, these processes presumably applied to females
(Gabbidon, 2010). With a few notable exceptions (e.g. von Hentig, 1942), it
was not until the mid-1980s that a considerable amount of criminological work
attended to black females.
4
This relative neglect prompted Rice (1990, p. 58)
to discuss black women as “the other dark figure of crime” to “refer to the
way in which black female offenders have been overshadowed by both black
men and white women in the criminological literature.” Although still rela-
tively sparse, over the past several decades a number of scholarly efforts,
3. Although females are the focus of this study, we also estimate the models for the subsample of
males in order to have a point of comparison.
4. See Gabbidon (2010) for a thorough review of theory and research on African American female
offenders.
DISCRIMINATION, ERS AND GENDER 535
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especially by black feminists and critical race theorists, have put black females
and offending at the center of their analyses (e.g. Lewis, 1981; Potter, 2006;
Young, 1986). In general, these works highlight the unique status of African
American females, emphasizing the intersections of race, sex/gender, and
often class in shaping offending behaviors (e.g. Crenshaw, 1991; Hill & Craw-
ford, 1990; Simpson, 1991). These pieces accentuate the idiomatic risks faced
by black females, who face a “double jeopardy” or a “double burden” given
their simultaneous “blackness” and “femaleness” (St. Jean & Feagin, 1998;
Thomas, Witherspoon, & Speight, 2008), and have greatly contributed to our
understanding of the unique social experiences and pressures faced by black
females.
Although both structural and black feminist/critical race theory explanations
have garnered empirical support and greatly contributed to our knowledge of
racial disparities in offending (e.g. Peterson, Krivo, & Browning, 2006) as well
as the particular risks and constraints that black females face (e.g. Gabbidon,
2010; Sulton, 1994), scholars have argued that to fully understand the link
between race and crime, explanations must include the practice and lived
reality of racism (e.g. Burt et al., 2012; Unnever & Gabbidon, 2011). Although
scholars have pointed to racism as a potent contributor to racial disparities in
offending since at least the time of Du Bois (1899), it is not until very recently
that the criminogenic effects of racial discrimination at the level of the indi-
vidual have been the center of scholarly attention. Recent work suggests that
interpersonal racial discriminationthe blatant, subtle and covert actions,
verbal messages, or signals that are supported by white racism and malign,
mistreat or otherwise harm members of racial minorities (Essed, 1991; Feagin,
1991)deserves attention as a factor contributing to offending.
A growing body of evidence suggests that interpersonal racial discrimination
is criminogenic. At least 13 recent studies document a link between individual
experiences with racial discrimination and concurrent or subsequent offending.
These studies find that interpersonal racial discrimination is associated with
self-reported conduct problems (Brody, et al., 2006; DuBois, Burk-Braxton,
Swenson, Tevendale, & Hardesty, 2002; Nyborg & Curry, 2003; Simons & Burt,
2011; Simons et al., 2003), violence (Caldwell, Kohn-Wood, Schmeelk-Cone,
Chavous, & Zimmerman, 2004; Simons, Simons, & Burt, 2006; Stewart &
Simons, 2006), delinquency (Burt et al., 2012; Martin, et al., 2011; Unnever,
Cullen, Mathers, McClure, & Allison, 2009), and official reports of arrest
(McCord & Ensminger, 1997, 2003). A number of different measures of discrim-
ination are used, but all ask the respondents to report whether they have
experienced one or more negative acts because, from their perspective, they
are black.
Most of these studies have focused on the criminogenic effects of racial dis-
crimination among African American males. Although a few studies include
both sexes (e.g. Martin et al., 2011; Simons et al., 2003), at present no study
has examined these processes among a sample of females. Addressing this gap
is important given the fact not only that African American females deserve
536 BURT AND SIMONS
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attention in their own right as worthy objects of study, but that evidence sug-
gests that racial discrimination is gendered and therefore may gender behav-
ioral responses (e.g. Essed, 1991). To elucidate the processes through which
discrimination experiences may make minority individualsboth females and
malesmore likely offend, we draw upon a recently developed social sche-
matic theory of offending.
Social Schematic Theory of Offending
The present study links racial discrimination experiences to an increased likeli-
hood of general offending through a social schematic theory of offending
(Simons & Burt, 2011). This theory focuses on the manner in which social fac-
tors–especially persistent, reoccurring, or memorable ones–blunt humans’
innate tendencies to sympathy, fairness, and cooperation (e.g. de Waal, 2006;
Hauser, 2006). Assuming that individuals are naturally inclined to be benevo-
lent and altruistic, the focus of the theory is explaining how individuals come
to behave in ways that are unkind and egoistic. The answer is suggested in
large part by evidence that most offenders do not believe that their illegal
acts are evil or immoral, but rather consider their crimes to have been justi-
fied, sensible, or compelled by the exigencies of the situation (e.g. Black,
1998; Katz, 1988). From this perspective, crimes result when individuals come
to define situations as requiring or justifying aggression, coercion, or cheating.
Undergirded by these assumptions, the theory aims to explicate the process–
the underlying mechanisms–that accounts for individual differences in situa-
tional definitions compelling or justifying crime.
Drawing on insights from social learning (e.g. Akers, 1985) and information-
processing theories (e.g. Dodge & Pettit, 2003), Simons and Burt (2011)
highlight the role of social experiences in shaping situational definitions. In
particular, they emphasize the content of learning: the lessons communicated
by “the persistent and recurring interactions that comprise an individual’s
everyday existence” (p. 554). These lessons are stored as social schemas,
defined as cognitive representations of the patterns inherent in past social
interactions that direct the processing of future social stimuli, thereby linking
past experiences with future behavior (Crick & Dodge, 1994; Dodge & Pettit,
2003). Social schemas influence behavior by specifying the import and meaning
of various social stimuli and the probable consequences of various action alter-
natives. Focusing on illegal actions, Simons and Burt (2011) propose that various
social illssuch as racial discriminationincrease individuals’ propensities to
crime because they foster criminogenic social schemas, or those that increase
the likelihood that situations are defined as justifying or requiring acts of law
violation. Individuals who are frequently exposed to harsh, unpredictable, and
unfair social environments internalize messages that the world is a hostile,
unpredictable place, delayed rewards rarely materialize, and social rules and
punishments do not apply to everyone equally.
DISCRIMINATION, ERS AND GENDER 537
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Integrating insights from several prominent theories, Simons and Burt (2011)
identified three key criminogenic schemas. These include: hostile views of
relationships (Anderson, 1999; Dodge, 2006); immediate gratification (or dis-
counting the future, e.g. Gottfredson & Hirschi, 1990; Wilson & Herrnstein,
1985); and disengagement from conventional norms (e.g. Akers, 1985; Hirschi,
1969). Simons and Burt (2011, pp. 556-561) argue that because these schemas
are rooted in the same set of harsh and unpredictable social conditions, which
communicate similar messages about the nature of relationships, the value of
delaying gratification, and the wisdom of following conventional rules, and
because they tend to reinforce one another, these three schemas operate in
tandem, coalescing into a higher-order knowledge structure that operates to
foster situational definitions conducive to crime. This criminogenic knowledge
structure (hereafter, CKS) exists on a continuum, such that individuals at the
low end possess benign views of relationships, see the wisdom of following
conventional norms, and the value of delaying gratification, whereas individu-
als at the high end have a learned view of the world that is more harsh, unpre-
dictable, and unforgiving, and thus are more likely to define situations as
requiring or justifying crime.
In their initial test of the theory, Simons and Burt (2011) found strong
support for their hypotheses, as the social conditions they examined shaped
individuals’ CKS, which in turn increased the likelihood of offending. The
effects of all six of the social factors included in their model–quality parent-
ing, collective efficacy, community crime, delinquent peers, sex/gender, and
prior offending as well as racial discrimination–were almost fully mediated by
the CKS. Further support for the theory has been reported in Simons and Barr
(2012), who found that much of the effect of romantic relationships on desis-
tance was explained by a reduction in the CKS.
The present study employs this social schematic theory to explain the
processes through which interpersonal racial discrimination increases the
likelihood of general offending. Thus, we posit that racial discrimination–as an
antagonistic, unpredictable, and unfair social interaction–teaches individuals
that the world and (at least some) other individuals are hostile and biased,
that delaying gratification does not necessarily lead to earned outcomes, and
that social rules do not apply to everyone fairly (e.g. Burt et al., 2012; Steven-
son, 2003). Specifically, we hypothesize that racial discrimination increases
the risk of offending in large part by increasing hostile views of relationships,
delay discounting, and disengagement from conventional norms, which come
together as a latent CKS. Past research, although focusing primarily on males,
has linked racial discrimination to each of the three components of the CKS
(e.g. Burt et al., 2012; Inzlicht, McKay, & Aronson, 2006; Simons et al., 2003,
2006). Notably, we do not expect that the CKS will fully mediate the effects of
racial discrimination, as there are still other factors that may play a role,
including racially specific ones (e.g. Unnever & Gabbidon, 2011). However, this
social schematic explanation provides not only a coherent explanation of the
538 BURT AND SIMONS
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process linking racial discrimination to offending, but also a parsimonious foun-
dation from which to examine the protective effects of ERS.
Ethnic-racial Socialization
Because American society continues to be hostile to racial differences,
minority youth who are unaware of racism are ill prepared for what they will
inevitably encounter (e.g. Stevenson, 1994). In recent decades, scholars have
increasingly focused on adaptive racial practices that may promote resilience
to racial discrimination. In particular, ERSa class of protective practices uti-
lized to promote minority children’s pride and esteem in their racial group and
to provide children with competencies to deal with systemic racism (Hughes,
2003; Stevenson et al., 2003)has been identified as a salient protective fac-
tor against racial discrimination. Scholars have argued that ERS provides “a
deeper knowledge of and responses to the hows and whys of systemic racism,”
and is necessary to protect youth from “the onslaught of subtle and blatant
racial violence” (Stevenson et al., 2003, p. 44). Black youth who have devel-
oped “an internalized awareness of racism and their unique cultural heritage
will be better prepared to handle life struggles in a race-tense context” (Ste-
venson et al., 1997, p. 198).
A growing body of research documents the existence and importance of ERS
in black families (see Hughes et al., 2006; Lesane-Brown, 2006, for reviews).
Two forms of ERS, preparation for bias and cultural socializationthe “proac-
tive and protective messages and interactions that arise in family conversa-
tions about race”–have been identified as essential to African Americans
resilience to racial discrimination (Stevenson et al., 2003, p. 46). As noted ear-
lier, a previous study of the male youth in the FACHS found that both that
preparation for bias and cultural socialization protected against the crimino-
genic effects of discrimination (Burt et al., 2012). In this study, we examine
whether and, if so, how these forms of ERS protect against the criminogenic
effects of discrimination for females. First, we briefly discuss these two forms
of ERS.
5
Cultural Socialization
Cultural socialization practices emphasize racial or ethnic heritage and
promote cultural customs and traditions, thereby fostering children’s racial
and/or ethnic pride (e.g. Hughes et al., 2006). These practices “include teach-
ing children how to be proud of their culture because its substance is historic,
African derived, culturally empowering, and not dependent on oppressive
5. See Unnever and Gabbidon (2011) for a more extensive review of the ERS literature as it relates
to offending.
DISCRIMINATION, ERS AND GENDER 539
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experiences” and a “view of the self as extended and interactional as opposed
to individualistic” (Stevenson, 1995, pp. 51-52). Examples include family
discussions about important achievements and prominent individuals in one’s
ethnic-racial group, sharing culturally relevant stories, and celebrating cultural
holidays. These caregiving strategies have evolved to encourage esteem and a
sense of cultural well-being and belonging among minority children in a racist
society (Billingsley, 1992; Bowman & Howard, 1985; Peters, 1985).
By making ethnic-racial culture salient and a source of pride, cultural social-
ization practices promote group solidarity, inclusion, cultural empowerment,
and a positive racial identity (e.g. Hughes, Hagelskamp, Way, & Foust, 2009;
Stevenson, 1995), which are associated with general psychological well-being,
including higher self-esteem (e.g. Caldwell, Zimmerman, Bernat, Sellers, &
Notaro, 2002; Sellers, Copeland-Linder, Martin, & Lewis, 2006). Particularly
important for the present study, a few studies have linked cultural socializa-
tion with fewer externalizing behaviors (e.g. less fighting and better anger
management, especially among boys; Stevenson et al., 2003) and internalizing
problems (e.g. reduced depression, anxiety, psychological distress; e.g.
Bynum, Burton, & Best, 2007; Caughy, O’Campo, Randolph, & Nickerson,
2002). Finally, although not directly reducing offending, Burt and colleagues
(2012) found that cultural socialization was inversely related to disengagement
from conventional norms among males.
Building on this work, we explore whether cultural socialization has a com-
pensatory effect on racial discrimination among females, hypothesizing that it
is negatively related to offending and the CKS. In addition, although research
is scarce and mixed (Bynum et al., 2007; Hughes et al., 2006), there is some
evidence suggesting that cultural socialization may exert a protective effect
(e.g. Cross, 1991; Stevenson, 1995; Ward, 1996). Thus, we will also exam-
ine the possibility that cultural socialization buffers the effects of racial
discrimination.
Preparation for Bias
A critical component of parenting among African Americans is making children
aware of racism and teaching them how to deal with its various manifestations
(e.g. Hughes et al., 2006; Stevenson et al., 1997). Scholars have argued that
black children who are not warned about discrimination and educated about
racism are more vulnerable to maladjustment (e.g. Stevenson, 1995). The vari-
ous actions by families to warn children about discrimination and provide them
with strategic tools to cope with and overcome racial barriers are called
preparation for bias (e.g. Hughes et al., 2006). Through these socialization
practices, black children learn to place specific social occurrences in a general
context of race relations and develop strategies to resist racism (Essed, 1991).
Although fewer studies have examined the effects of preparation for bias
than cultural socialization, studies suggest that its primary benefits are
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indirect, providing resilience by “reducing the psychologically asphyxiating
effects of racism” (Peters & Massey, 1983; Stevenson et al., 2003, p. 10).
Preparation for bias may reduce the deleterious consequences of discrimina-
tion because it warns youth about the possibility of discrimination, thereby
reducing the likelihood that they will be caught off guard, blame themselves,
or feel alone in circumstances where they experience discrimination. Unex-
pected discrimination is more stressful (Cooper, McLoyd, Wood, & Hardaway,
2008), and preparation for bias helps adolescents attribute race-based unfair
treatment to external sources (Crocker, Voelkl, Testa, & Major, 1991; Peterson
& Seligman, 1984). In addition, preparation for bias may provide minority
youth with scripts to enact in discriminatory interactions and skills to cope
with the consequences of racial discrimination, including “the ability to
reflect, ponder, and face their situation … and manage the complexities of a
white supremacist society” (Stevenson et al., 2003, p. 14). Scholars have noted
that bias preparation provides youth with a flexible toolkit of coping strategies
that promotes interpersonal competence and protects youths’ identities from
psychological insult (e.g. Stevenson, 1995; Ward, 1996).
ERS practices may also facilitate comparisons with past experiences of rac-
ism and promote sharing and discussing racial discrimination with supportive
others in the African American community (e.g. Essed, 1991; Stevenson et al.,
1997). “In sharing their own personal, often painful experiences, African
American parents transmit to their children the knowledge that they have been
there too and they can see what their children see, feel their pain, and share
their frustration … communicating this sense of psychological oneness helps
children to develop the awareness that they are not merely in the group but of
the group” (Ward, 1996, pp. 91-92; internal citations omitted). Although lim-
ited, consistent with this idea, research on coping in African American adoles-
cents has shown that preparation for bias directly increases the use of
adaptive coping strategies (social support seeking and problem-solving) and
indirectly facilitates adaptive coping by augmenting perceived control over dis-
crimination experiences (Scott, 2004). Similarly, in an exploratory factor analy-
sis, Stevenson (1994) found that bias preparation is associated with extended
family caring and spiritual and religious coping among females.
To date, at least three studies have examined the buffering effects of prep-
aration for bias. In the first, Fischer and Shaw (1999) found that “racism
awareness teaching” attenuated the effect of discrimination on decreased
well-being and psychological distress in a sample of African American college
students. Harris-Britt and colleagues (2007) showed that preparation for bias
buffered the effect of racial discrimination on lower self-esteem. Finally, Burt
and colleagues (2012) found that preparation for bias buffered the effects of
discrimination on increased offending among adolescent males. It did so pri-
marily by attenuating the likelihood that the criminogenic mediators (distress,
disengagement from norms, and hostile views) would lead to crime when they
did develop. Building on this work, we expect that preparation for bias buffers
the effect of discrimination, such that the link between discrimination and
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crime is weaker for females who have received more preparation for bias.
Given gender differences in socialization, norms, and behaviors, how ERS
exerts its protective effects may be gendered.
Gender and ERS
There are several reasons to expect gender differences in the effects of ERS
practices. First, given the gendered nature of racism, caregivers may socialize
their male and female children to race/ethnicity differently. Despite the fact
that scholars have argued for a number of years that ERS practices are gen-
dered (e.g. Greene, 1990; Stevenson, 1994), there is a relative dearth of
research into gender differences in the content or context of ERS practices,
and the results from the few studies are somewhat equivocal. Most in-depth
studies have utilized single-sex samples (e.g. Essed, 1991; Jones & Shorter-
Gooden, 2003), while studies utilizing both sexes tend to be quantitative ones
using frequency scales for different ERS practices (e.g. Brown, Linver, & Evans,
2010; Stevenson, 1994; Thomas & Speight, 1999). Where gender differences
have been found in these scalar measures, it is generally that males receive
more preparation for bias messages and females more cultural socialization
and achievement communications (e.g. Bowman & Howard, 1985; Hughes
et al., 2006; Thomas & Speight, 1999).
Notably, gender differences are less pronounced in mean frequency scale
measures (e.g. Hughes & Chen, 1997) and more pronounced in qualitative
interviews or open-ended responses (e.g. Bowman & Howard, 1985), suggesting
that gender differences may be nuanced in content and tone across sex. For
example, Ward (1996) discusses how African American mothers “arm [their]
daughters to resist the relentless assault of American beauty myths on [a]
black woman’s sense of self,” while Russell-Brown (2009; citing Culp 1993;
Roddy, 1995) discusses the “Lesson” black men receive from their parents on
how to deal with a police stop without getting injured. Although both messages
are forms of warning their children about discrimination, the content of these
messages varies greatly given the different racist obstacles black males and
females are likely to encounter. Possible gender differences in the content and
form of ERS messages, in turn, might produce gender differences in the nature
of their protective effects.
In addition to gender differences in ERS messages themselves, it is likely
that gender norms influence the effects of ERS practices in such a way that
males and females utilize the lessons they have learned in different ways (e.g.
Brown et al., 2010; Stevenson, 1994). In other words, the coping scripts or
toolkits developed in response to ERS may be channeled in ways that fit in with
gender scripts and norms, such that the same message could have different
effects for males and females. Females, for example, may be more likely to
seek social support for emotional or relational aspects of racial discrimination,
542 BURT AND SIMONS
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whereas males may be more inclined to seek support for action tactics to use
to deal with discriminatory lessons.
A final reason to expect gender differences in the effects of ERS is that gen-
der is an important source of individual variability in coping with stressful
events, including racial discrimination (e.g. Clark, Anderson, Clark, & Williams,
1999; Utsey, Ponterotto, Reynolds, & Cancelli, 2000). Some evidence suggests
that social support seeking and religiosity are more important coping strategies
and protective buffers for African American females than for males (e.g. Swim,
Hyers, Cohen, Fitzgerald, & Bylsma, 2003). Furthermore, gender roles make
deviant, especially aggressive, coping responses more acceptable for males
than for females (e.g. Brody & Agnew, 1997; Heimer, 1996). For these reasons,
we compare the protective effects of ERS strategies for males and females.
While we make no specific hypotheses about the nature of these differences,
theory and research provide good reasons to expect that the protective effects
of ERS differ across sex.
Summary and Hypotheses
In the present study, we examine the effects of interpersonal racial discrimina-
tion among a sample of African American females using a recently developed
social schematic theory of crime. In addition to exploring a race-specific risk
factor for offending, we examine the protective effects of ERS. In doing so,
we make several hypotheses. First, we expect that racial discrimination
increases female delinquency. Focusing on mechanisms and drawing upon
Simons and Burt’s (2011) social schematic theory, we argue that discrimination
foments hostile views of relationships, discounting the future, and disengage-
ment from conventional norms, which come together as a latent CKS to
increase the likelihood of offending. Incorporating adaptive cultural practices,
we posit that familial cultural socialization is inversely associated with delin-
quency and the CKS. In addition, we predict that preparation for bias buffers
the effects of racial discrimination and investigate whether it does so by
decreasing the link between discrimination and the knowledge structure and/
or by decreasing the effects of the CKS on offending.
These hypotheses are tested using the first four waves of the FACHS. Impor-
tantly, while we use all four waves, we focus on the effects of discrimination
on crime concurrently (at wave 4) using measures of ERS practices averaged
across waves 3 and 4. This modeling decision was necessitated by the availabil-
ity of measures and justified by our findings that discrimination has a more
substantial effect on crime in the short term than the long term. While this
may raise causal order questions, past research modeling reciprocal relation-
ships, including studies utilizing these data, demonstrate that the plurality of
the effects is from discrimination to offending, rather than the reverse (Brody
et al., 2006; Burt et al., 2012; Simons et al., 2003). Preliminary analyses
testing the causal sequencing of delinquency, hostile views, delay discounting,
DISCRIMINATION, ERS AND GENDER 543
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disengagement from norms, ERS, and reports of discrimination experiences
suggest that the causal order is from racial discrimination to the intervening
mechanisms rather than the reverse and provide no support for an alternative
perspective of reverse causal ordering.
Method
Sampling
The FACHS is a longitudinal, multisite investigation of health and psychosocial
development among African American families living in Iowa and Georgia at
the first interview. The FACHS was designed to analyze the particular risks and
resources that disrupt or promote African American family functioning and
youth development in various contexts. The sites sampled included rural, sub-
urban, and metropolitan communities.
Data were collected in Georgia and Iowa using similar research procedures;
the samples were combined after data analyses indicated that they were com-
parable on demographic, community, and family process variables (Cutrona,
Russell, Hessling, Brown, & Murry, 2000). Using 1990 Census data, block group
areas (BGAsclusters of blocks within a census track) were identified in both
Iowa and Georgia in which the percent of African American families was high
enough to make recruitment economically practical (10% or higher) and in
which the percent of families with children living below the poverty line varied
considerably.
6
A random sample of roughly 650 caregivers and youth were
selected in each state in 1997. Approximately, 75% of Iowa families (475) and
65% (422) of Georgia families agreed to participate. Caregivers received $100
and youths received $70 for their participation in Waves 1 and 2, and $125
each in Waves 3 and 4.
Sample
A total of 897 African American families participated in the first wave of the
FACHS. Each family included a fifth-grade target youth at wave 1; 54% were
female. Most (84%) of the primary caregivers were the target’s biological moth-
ers, of whom 37% were married at wave 1. The mean family income across the
four waves of data collection was $32,259. The families resided in a variety of
settings, varying in ethnic-racial composition and levels of disadvantage. At
wave 4, for example, the average percentage of African Americans in the BGAs
was 37%; one-quarter of respondents lived in BGAs with less than 10% black resi-
dents, and 25% lived in BGAs with at least 60% black residents. In general, the
6. Most census tracks include four to five block groups; in the 1990 census, BGs averaged roughly
450 housing units with 1,100 residents (Martin et al., 2011).
544 BURT AND SIMONS
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sample was representative of the African American populations of the communi-
ties from which participants were recruited (Cutrona et al., 2000).
7
Of the 897 families who originally participated in the study, 779 (87%) remained
in the sample at wave 2, 767 (86%) at wave 3, and 714 (80%) in wave 4.
8
Data col-
lection was completed for the waves in 1998, 2001, 2004, and 2007, respectively.
The ages of youths were 10-12, 12-14, 15-17, and 17-20 in waves 1-4, respectively.
These data span adolescence, a time when both offending (Hirschi & Gottfredson,
1983) and ERS practices peak (Hughes et al., 2006). The study sample includes 367
females interviewed at wave 4. Thirty-one respondents (8%) were not surveyed at
wave 2, and thus were missing data for the lagged measures at this wave. For
these respondents, we used their wave 1 scores.
9
Measures
10
Delinquency
The primary dependent variable was generated using youth self-reports at wave
4 and measures the number of different delinquent acts (out of 17) the respon-
dents committed in the past year, such as binge drinking (23%), aggravated
assault (8%), marijuana use (14%), vandalism (8%), shoplifting (19%), starting a
physical fight (28%), breaking and entering (1%), assault with a weapon (3%), and
completed or attempted robbery (less than 1%). Clearly, the delinquent is not
simply a “rogue male.” The items were culled from the Diagnostic Interview
Schedule for Children, Version 4 (DISC-IV; American Psychiatric Association,
1994). Although these items vary in seriousness, our model proposes that the
effect of discrimination is general across offenses. The responses were summed
to create a variety count of delinquency. The average number of different delin-
quent acts committed was 1.67 at wave 4, and scores ranged from 0 (43%) to 9
(.3%); 108 respondents (28%) reported committing at least four different
offenses in the past year. The Kuder–Richardson coefficient of reliability (KR
20
;
Kuder & Richardson, 1937), designed to assess the reliability of dichotomously
scored scales, was .86. The control for previous delinquency was created by
averaging the wave 1, 2, and 3 scores for the same instrument.
Racial Discrimination
We measure youth experiences with racial discrimination at wave 4 with a
revised version of the Schedule of Racist Events (SRE; Landrine & Klonoff,
7. At the time of the wave 4 interviews, the target youth had spread to 25 different states, though
92% remained in the state in which they resided at wave 1.
8. We examined whether the findings with available measures held in earlier waves of data to
examine potential bias from attrition and confirmed the pattern of results at all waves. In addition,
we estimated the SEM using full information maximum likelihood under MAR (Little & Rubin, 2002)
and the pattern of results was the same.
9. The results were equivalent whether these cases were included or excluded from the analyses.
10. Specific item content for any measure is available from the authors upon request.
DISCRIMINATION, ERS AND GENDER 545
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1996). The SRE was designed for adult respondents; the FACHS researchers
revised the items to make them relevant for youth in late childhood through
adolescence. The revisions included simplifying the language and replacing
items dealing with discrimination in the workplace with items about discrimi-
natory behaviors in the community. The items in the revised SRE instrument
assessed the frequency during the past year, ranging from 1 (never)to4(fre-
quently), with which the respondent experienced specific discriminatory
behaviors because of [his/her] race or ethnicity. Eleven of the original 13
items were utilized in the present study.
11
The measure incorporates racially
based slurs and insults, physical threats, false accusations from law enforce-
ment officials, and disrespectful treatment from others (a= .90).
Table 1 displays the discrimination items and their prevalence as well as the
discrimination variety count (the number of different acts experienced at least
once in the past year). The overwhelming majority (88%) of the females in the
study reported experiencing racial discrimination in the past year. Within this
majority, however, considerable variation exists in both the number of differ-
ent discrimination experiences and the frequency of their occurrence. On aver-
age, the youth experienced more than five different types of discrimination in
the past year. Underscoring the pervasive influence of racial discrimination in
the lives of these black females, 16% indicated that at least one of the items
occurred on a “frequent” basis.
Ethnic-racial Socialization
The items for the two ERS scales were adapted from instruments used by Diane
Hughes and colleagues and have demonstrated high validity and reliability
(e.g. Hughes & Chen, 1997). Item content for these measures was originally
derived from stories and events described by African American parents partici-
pating in focus group interviews (Hughes & Dumont, 1993). The items assessed
the frequency of a range of familial behaviors and communications to children
around the issue of race or ethnicity. For each item, the youth indicated the
number of times that adults in their family engaged in the specific behavior
during the past 12 months. Starting in wave 3, respondents answered the ERS
instrument. To create a cumulative measure of ERS, we combined (averaged)
the scales from waves 3 and 4 to create the measures used in the present
study.
Cultural socialization was measured with youth responses to five questions
about how often adults in their family engaged in activities or communications
that highlighted African American culture and history or promoted black pride.
Coefficient alpha for the measure was approximately .85 at both waves, and
11. Two of the items asked respondents to indicate how often their friends and family members
were treated unfairly because of their race or ethnicity. These items were not included because
the focus of the present study is discrimination experienced by the respondents themselves. Analy-
ses estimated with the measure of discrimination including the two vicarious discrimination items
were tantamount to those presented herein.
546 BURT AND SIMONS
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Table 1 Female experiences with discrimination
a
Discrimination items Never
Once or
twice
A few
times Frequently
Sex
diffs
b
#
discrm
c
%
How often has someone said something insulting to you …? 36% 38% 23% 2% 0 12
How often has a store-owner, sales clerk…treated you in a disrespectful way …? 39 37 20 4 F
16
How often have the police hassled you…? 69 19 7 4 M
⁄⁄
26
How often has someone ignored you or excluded you from some activity …? 67 25 8 1 3 11
How often has someone suspected you of doing something wrong …? 50 29 17 4 M
⁄⁄
47
How often has someone yelled a racial slur or racial insult at you …? 46 37 15 2 5 8
How often has someone threatened to harm you physically …? 88 11 1 1 M
⁄⁄
6 11
How often have you encountered people who are surprised that you … did
something really well?
41 32 20 7 7 8
How often have you been treated unfairly …? 42 41 14 3 8 11
How often have you encountered people who didn’t expect you to do well …? 38 34 22 7 9 8
How often has someone discouraged you from trying to achieve an important
goal …?
66 23 9 2 M
⁄⁄
10 7
11 6
Note: As an introduction to the discrimination instrument, respondents were presented with the following statement: “Racial discrimination occurs when some-
one is treated in a negative or unfair way just because of their race or ethnic background. I want to ask you some questions about whether you have experi-
enced racial discrimination. For each statement, please tell me if this situation has happened to you never, once or twice, a few times or several times.”
a
Elipses refer to: “because of your race or ethnic background.”
b
Results of t-tests comparing differences in item means between females and males (
⁄⁄
<.01;
p<.05; two-tailed tests).
c
Discrimination event count, which counts the number of different discrimination items experienced at least once.
DISCRIMINATION, ERS AND GENDER 547
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the stability correlation was .36. Preparation for bias was measured with six
questions that assess messages youth received about prejudice and discrimina-
tion. The items covered explicit verbal communications regarding racial barri-
ers as well as inadvertent messages. Coefficient alpha for the scale was above
.86 in both waves, and the stability correlation was .48.
Table 2 presents the frequency of ERS practices based on wave 3 reports,
and as with discrimination, there is substantial variation in ERS across respon-
dents. The prevalence of preparation for bias across the two waves is tanta-
mount to cultural socialization (98%), and both are consonant with extant
research on African Americans (e.g. Hughes et al., 2006).
Criminogenic Knowledge Structure
This construct was indicated by three self-reported scales from wave 4 devel-
oped by Simons and Burt (2011); controls for prior scores were calculated at
wave 2. The CKS measure used in the econometric models was created by
Table 2 Frequency of ERS practices at wave 3.
a
Number times adults in family engaged in
behavior in the past year
Never 1-2 3-5 5-10 10 + Mean
Sex
diffs
c
Cultural socialization items %%% % %
Celebrated cultural holidays 30 36 17 9 8 1.20
Talked about important people or
events
17 35 23 12 13 1.26
Taken places reflecting racial heritage 32 36 16 10 7 1.23 F
⁄⁄
Encouraged to read books about
heritage
21 31 21 13 15 1.70
Encouraged to learn about history or
traditions
13 39 22 13 14 1.75
Preparation for bias items
b
%%% % %
People might limit you 27 30 21 9 13 1.33
People might treat you badly or unfairly 22 30 22 12 14 1.66
Will have to be better than others 47 25 13 8 6 1.01 M
Talked about discrimination or
prejudice
16 31 21 14 17 1.84 F
⁄⁄
Explained poor treatment on TV 23 33 24 10 10 1.52
Talked to others about discrimination in
your presence
34 34 20 5 7 1.16
a
Percentages may not sum to 100 due to rounding.
b
Each preparation for bias items included the statement “because of your race.”
c
Results of t-tests comparing differences in item means for males and females.
548 BURT AND SIMONS
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standardizing and averaging the three schema subscales. The reliability of the
composite CKS measure was .62. Each schema subscale was created by averag-
ing standardized responses across items. The items included in the CKS are
listed in Appendix A.
The measure of immediate gratification was assessed with 13 items that cap-
ture respondents’ propensities to discount the future in choosing courses of
action. The items included: “When you have to wait in line you do it patiently”
and “You have to have everything right away.” The alpha coefficient was .75 at
both waves 2 and 4. Hostile views of relationships was created with 12 items
that assess respondents’ agreement with statements such as, “When people are
friendly, they usually want something from you” and “It is important to let others
know that if they do something wrong to you, you will make them pay for it.”
The scale measures the extent to which respondents have a cynical, mistrusting
view of others and consider a tough, aggressive posture as necessary for self-pro-
tection (a= .83 at wave 4 and .74 at wave 2). Disengagement from conventional
norms was measured with responses to 7 questions ascertaining how wrong they
considered the enactment of various deviant and criminal behaviors, such as
physical assault, selling marijuana, cheating on a test, and shoplifting. Response
categories ranged from 1 (not at all wrong)to4(very wrong) and were reverse-
coded (a= .83). This instrument was not incorporated at wave 2, but an analo-
gous norms scale was available, which asked respondents how acceptable it was
for kids their age to have sex, smoke, drink, and use drugs; response categories
ranged from 1 (you think it is very bad)to5(you think it is very good). The alpha
coefficient for this four-item scale was .77.
Control Variables
Two additional variables are included in the models to capture theoretically
relevant characteristics of youth and their families. ERS takes place in the con-
text of a general relationship between caregivers and children; therefore,
when examining the effects of ERS, we control for general parenting quality.
Drawing on extensive work on parenting, we conceptualize good parenting as
authoritative parenting. This constellation of parenting practices emphasizes
caregiver demandingness and responsiveness (Baumrind, 1966). We measure
authoritative parenting with combined youth and caregiver reports on five
multi-item scales, including parental warmth, avoidance of harsh discipline,
problem-solving, positive reinforcement of pro-social behaviors, and inductive
reasoning. Items were coded so that higher scores indicate better parenting,
averaged for each scale for each respondent (caregiver and youth), then stan-
dardized and averaged to create the measure of authoritative parenting we
employ (for more detail, see Burt, Simons, & Simons, 2006). The reliability of
the composite authoritative parenting measure was .84 using Nunnally’s (1978)
formula for calculating the reliability of a linear composite of measures.
We also control for youth age in months at the time of the interview, which
is incorporated into the model after standardization. Additional controls were
DISCRIMINATION, ERS AND GENDER 549
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considered, including primary caregiver race, age, level of education, and sex;
the presence of a second caregiver in the home; household income; and neigh-
borhood disadvantage and racial composition. None of these variables signifi-
cantly influenced the processes under consideration and thus were not
included in the results presented here.
12
Analytic Strategy
The analysis proceeds in a series of steps. We first test the effects of discrimi-
nation on crime directly and indirectly through the CKS using structural equa-
tion modeling (SEM). This estimation method allows for the modeling of
correlated error terms and multiple endogenous variables as well as testing for
direct and indirect effects, including the significance of specific paths, in a sys-
tem of equations (e.g. Bollen, 1989). The SEMs were estimated in MPlus, Ver-
sion 6.1 (Muthe
´n & Muthe
´n, 1998-2010) with a continuous equation using
maximum likelihood parameter estimates with standard errors and a mean-
adjusted chi-square statistic that are robust to non-normality.
13
In the next step, we examine the extent to which ERS practices provide resil-
ience to the criminogenic effects of racial discrimination in a series of econo-
metric models. Since the measure of delinquency represents counts of
engagement in acts and is distributed with substantial overdispersion, models
predicting delinquency are estimated using negative binomial regression models
(Long, 1997). When examining the effect of discrimination on the CKS, we esti-
mated ordinary least squares regression (OLS) models given its normal distribu-
tion.
14
Notably, because we are interested in the effects of racial discrimination
on changes in crime and the knowledge structure, we estimated the change in
the outcome as a result of discrimination by controlling for earlier score to pre-
dict the wave 4 outcome (the regressor variable method; Allison, 1990). Next,
we evaluate the extent to which preparation for bias and cultural socialization
buffer racial discrimination by incorporating product terms into the respective
models (protocol delineated by Aiken & West, 1991). Finally, we compare the
results observed among females to results obtained for males, using the formula
specified by Paternoster, Brame, Mazerolle, and Piquero (1998). The standard
errors in our models were adjusted with the Huber/white sandwich estimator
using the BGAs as the clustering units and were estimated in Stata 12 (Statacorp,
2012).
12. These results, along with any others noted but not shown, are available upon request from the
authors.
13. Although the measure of crime is more accurately modeled as a count measure, we present
the continuous model because model estimations with count or censored dependent variables
require numerical integration, which precludes the computation of indirect effects (Muthe
´n&
Muthe
´n, 1998–2010). The model presented here is robust to alternative specifications (negative
binomial and censored normal) of the equation predicting crime.
14. We also estimated the models with the CKS components incorporated as individual schemas;
these results, which are consistent with those presented in the text using the CKS construct, are
available upon request.
550 BURT AND SIMONS
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Results
Descriptives and Preliminaries
Table 3 presents the means, standard deviations, and correlation matrix
for the study variables. The zero-order pattern of associations is largely as
expected. Discrimination is significantly associated with delinquency (r= .28) as
well as the three schemas individually and the CKS composite. Each of the sche-
mas and the CKS measure has a significant positive relationship with delin-
quency. Neither preparation for bias nor cultural socialization, however, is
correlated with delinquency. Among the controls, as expected, authoritative
parenting has a significant negative relationship with offending, prior offending
is positively associated with later offending, and being older is positively associ-
ated with offending. Notably, while authoritative parenting is positively corre-
lated with cultural socialization, quality parenting is not associated with
preparation for bias.
The social schematic theory proposes that the three schemas are interre-
lated and come together to form higher-order construct, which Simons and
Burt (2011) label a CKS. We estimated a second-order confirmatory factor
analysis to support this idea. The results of the CFA are consistent with our
expectations and prior work. The higher-order CKS construct generates the
three first-order factors, with loadings of .67 for immediate gratification, .65
for hostile views, and .67 for disengagement from conventional norms
(p< .001), which in turn generate the individual items loading on each latent
schema.
15
Effects of Discrimination on Delinquency
Figure 1 displays the results of the reduced SEM of racial discrimination on delin-
quency (standardized coefficients presented).
16
The fit indices for the model
indicate good model fit and inspection of residuals and modification indices do
not indicate any areas of poor fit.
17
Overall, the model explains an impressive
44% of the variation in delinquency. Consistent with our expectations, Figure 1
shows that racial discrimination exerts a significant and appreciable effect on
15. The model fit indices from the second-order CFA indicate a good fit of the model to the data
(RMSEA = .032; TLI = .95; CFI = .97).
16. Following the initial estimation of the model, in which we included all potential paths, we con-
strained insignificant paths (t< 1.5), which were not part of the hypothesized model, and residual
correlations to zero to improve model fit. The model fit indices improved with the elimination of
the paths and the chi-square difference between the baseline model and the reduced model was
not significant (Dw
2(df)
= .854
(2)
), supporting the adoption of the reduced model.
17. To assess goodness-of-fit, we used Steiger’s Root Mean Square Error of Approximation (RMSEA;
Browne & Cudeck 1993), the comparative fit index (CFA; Bentler, 1990), and the w
2
divided by its
degrees of freedom (fit ratio). The CFI is truncated to the range of 0 to 1, and values close to 1
indicate a very good fit. An RMSEA smaller than .05 indicates a close fit.
DISCRIMINATION, ERS AND GENDER 551
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Table 3 Descriptive statistics and correlation matrix for study variables (n= 367).
Mean SD Min. Max. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
(1) Delinquency
w4
1.67 2.03 0 9
(2) Racial discrimination
w4
1.73 .56 1.00 3.54 .28
⁄⁄
(3) CKS
w4
!.09 .67 !1.66 2.08 .42
⁄⁄
.27
⁄⁄
(4) Immediate gratification
w4
!.04 .95 !1.52 3.38 .33
⁄⁄
.24
⁄⁄
.72
⁄⁄
(5) Hostile views of relationships
w4
!.08 .96 !3.03 2.11 .23
⁄⁄
.21
⁄⁄
.28
⁄⁄
.70
⁄⁄
(6) Disengagement from conventional
norms
w4
!.16 .89 !.16 .89 .40
⁄⁄
.19
⁄⁄
.30
⁄⁄
.28
⁄⁄
.74
⁄⁄
(7) Preparation for bias
w3 + w4
.00 .98 .03 .98 !.02 .44
⁄⁄
.04 .10 !.06 .04
(8) Collective socialization
w3 + w4
.03 1.01 .03 1.01 !.05 .22
⁄⁄
!.08 !.05 !.05 .50
⁄⁄
!.08 –
(9) Authoritative parenting
w4
!.02 1.07 !.02 1.07 !.28
⁄⁄
!.05 !.40
⁄⁄
!.31
⁄⁄
!.33
⁄⁄
.05 .24
⁄⁄
!.48
⁄⁄
(10) Prior delinquency
w1 + w2 + w3
.02 .85 .02 .85 .31
⁄⁄
.11
.17
⁄⁄
.11
.23
⁄⁄
!.07 !.10
!.23
⁄⁄
.30
⁄⁄
(11) Age
w4
.02 1.02 .02 1.02 .18
.17
⁄⁄
.06 .03 .12 !.12
!.17
⁄⁄
!.10
.19
⁄⁄
.25
⁄⁄
⁄⁄
p< .01;
p< .05.
552 BURT AND SIMONS
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the CKS (b= .29), which in turn has a strong influence on delinquency (b= .64),
net of the effect of prior delinquency and age. Notably, the effect of racial dis-
crimination is almost fully mediated by the knowledge structure, such that the
direct path is weak and not statistically significant (b= .037; p>.5).
Next, we decomposed the direct and indirect effects of racial discrimination
on delinquency.
18
Overall, racial discrimination has a considerable total effect
on delinquency (b
s
= .20). Consistent with our expectations, the bulk of this
effect (approximately 81%) is indirect through the latent CKS variable [indirect
effect of discrimination through the knowledge structure: (b= .16)]. Collec-
tively, these results are consistent with our predictions, indicating first that
racial discrimination increases offending among black females, and that it does
so in large part by increasing the CKS.
19
ERS as Resilience
The next question we sought to answer was whether ERS practices provide
resilience to the criminogenic effects of racial discrimination among females.
The results addressing this question are presented in Table 4. Standardized
coefficients are presented for the OLS models predicting the CKS. For the neg-
Figure 1 Structural equation model of racial discrimination on delinquency through
the CKS. Note. Model fit statistics: w
2
= 10.14(8), p= .26. RMSEA = .022; CFI = .99; Tucker-
Lewis Index [TLI] = .98. Standardized estimates are displayed. Solid lines indicate
p< .01; dashed lines indicate p> .05 (two-tailed tests). R
2
for the endogenous constructs
in parentheses.
18. MPlus has two options for calculated the standard errors for indirect effects: the delta and
bootstrapping methods. We estimated standard errors using both methods, and the results were
the same. Significance levels presented are based on the results from the delta method.
19. Supplementary analyses examined these pattern of findings held for different offense types.
The results were similar when predicting violent, nonviolent, and substance use offenses.
DISCRIMINATION, ERS AND GENDER 553
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Table 4 Models examining the reslience effects of ERS on crime among females (n= 367).
Independent variables
Delinquency CKS Delinquency
Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4 Model 5 Model 6 Model 7 Model 8
%b%b%b%bbb%b%b
Control for prior outcome 23.2
⁄⁄⁄
14.5
20.0
⁄⁄
19.5 .28
⁄⁄⁄
.27
⁄⁄⁄
14.1
14.4
Racial discrimination
w4
32.7
⁄⁄
18.7
⁄⁄
34.4
⁄⁄⁄
34.4 .23
⁄⁄⁄
.25
⁄⁄⁄
22.4
⁄⁄
22.0
⁄⁄
Age 16.6
14.3
11.4 10.3 .00 !.01 12.1 12.1
Cultural socialization
w3+w4
5.7 .4 .03 .00 7.7 4.2
Preparation for bias
w3+w4
!6.7 .1 !.07 !.03 !5.2 !1.5
Authoritative parenting
w3+w4
!28.8
⁄⁄⁄
!28.8
⁄⁄⁄
!.40
⁄⁄⁄
!.41
⁄⁄⁄
!14.8
!15.2
Criminogenic knowledge structure (CKS) 61.3
⁄⁄⁄
51.5
⁄⁄⁄
48.0
⁄⁄⁄
Discrimination "cultural socialization 9.1 .09 5.7
Discrimination "preparation for bias !17.9
!.17
⁄⁄⁄
!11.0
CKS "cultural socialization !3.1
CKS "preparation for bias !6.4
R
2
.10 .21 .15 .17 .35 .37 .22 .22
Note. Standardized estimates shown. The results for the models predicting crime are negative binomial models and for CKS are OLS models. For the OLS models
the R2 reported is the adjusted R2 and for the NB models the ML (Cox-Snell) R2. %b indictates the percent change in the expected count of crime for a stan-
dard deviation increase in the predictor, net of other variables.
⁄⁄⁄
p< .001;
⁄⁄
p< .01;
p<.05 (two-tailed tests).
554 BURT AND SIMONS
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ative binomial models predicting crime, the table presents the percent change
in the expected count for a standard deviation increase in the predictor (%b),
holding all other variables in the model constant (calculated as follows [100 "
(e
b
!1)]).
Notably, the models displayed in Table 4 reproduce the findings from the
path model of a strong effect of discrimination on delinquency (Model 1). Illus-
tratively, the expected count of delinquency for a female at one standard
deviation below the mean of discrimination is 1.10, rises to 1.47 at the mean
of discrimination, and increases to 2.76 at two standard deviations above the
mean of discrimination. In addition, these models are also generally consistent
with the SEM models in terms of the mediating effects of the CKS, as the size
of the coefficient for discrimination decreases by 43% when CKS is added to
the model (Model 2). Furthermore, Model 2 also shows that the CKS is strongly
related to increases in offending; a standard deviation increase in the CKS
increases the expected count of offending by 61%.
Turning to the effects of ERS practices and focusing first on compensation
effects, we predicted that cultural socialization would be negatively related to
delinquency and the CKS. The results in Models 3 and 5, however, do not sup-
port our predictions. Cultural socialization is not directly associated with delin-
quency or the CKS. Similarly, preparation for bias does not have a direct effect
on delinquency or the CKS. The results displayed in Table 4 thus suggest that
neither cultural socialization nor preparation for bias compensate for the
effects of discrimination on delinquency.
Next, we examined whether ERS practices act as a buffer. Model 4 displays
the results of the model testing whether cultural socialization and preparation
for bias reduce the effects of discrimination on offending. Results of this model,
and subsequent ones across Table 4, reveal that cultural socialization does not
influence the effect of discrimination. Consistent with our predictions, the
interaction term for preparation for bias and discrimination in Model 4 is signifi-
cant and negative (%b=!17.9), suggesting that the effect of discrimination on
delinquency is attenuated by preparation for bias. To facilitate the interpreta-
tion of this effect, we graphed the interaction. Figure 2 displays the marginal
effects of racial discrimination on delinquency across observed levels of prepa-
ration for bias and reveals preparation for bias’s protective effects. The effect
of racial discrimination on offending is buffered by preparation for bias.
Having found that preparation for bias reduces the criminogenic effects of
discrimination, the next question we sought to answer was how it reduced
discriminations’ effects. First, we considered whether preparation for bias
attenuated the effects of discrimination on the CKS. These results are dis-
played in Model 6. Here, the product term between discrimination and prepa-
ration for bias is significant and negative, suggesting that preparation for bias
reduces the effects of discrimination on the development of the CKS. Graphs
of this interaction (not shown) support this interpretation, revealing that the
effect of racial discrimination on increasing the CKS is weaker among females
who have received higher levels of preparation for bias. Next, we examined
DISCRIMINATION, ERS AND GENDER 555
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whether ERS practices reduce the effects of the CKS on offending. As shown in
Model 7 in Table 4, preparation for bias does not moderate the effects of the
CKS on offending. The final model in Table 4 examines whether preparation for
bias or cultural socialization buffer the unmediated effects of discrimination
on delinquency. The results provide a negative answer; although preparation
for bias is in the expected direction, it does not reach statistical significance.
Thus, these results suggest that preparation for bias buffers the effects of
racial discrimination on delinquency among black females. It does so by
attenuating the effect of racial discrimination on the development of the CKS.
Before further discussing this protective effect, we examine gender
differences.
Sex/Gender Differences
Thus far, we have examined the effects of racial discrimination and ERS on
females without a comparison to males. The final aim of the study is to
compare these processes for males and females. We reproduced the models
presented here among the males in the sample so that direct comparisons can
be made with the pattern of findings observed among the females. In addition,
we looked at gender differences in the types and amounts of racial discrimina-
tion and ERS.
Figure 2 Figure displaying the marginal effects of discrimination on delinquency
across observed levels of preparation for bias (based on model 4 of Table 4).
556 BURT AND SIMONS
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Focusing first on differences in discrimination, although the average overall
amount of discrimination is higher for males, this difference is only marginally
significant (males’ mean = 1.81; diff = .075, p= .094). Thus, consistent with
some research (see Unnever & Gabbidon, 2011), males in this study reported
experiencing slightly more discrimination than did the females. There are also
significant differences in the types of discrimination experienced by males and
females, indicated in the “Sex Diff.” column in Table 1. For example, males
report experiencing significantly more police hassles and discouragement from
achieving important goals, while females report more frequent experiences of
disrespect by storeowners and store clerks. Notably, item correlations with
delinquency (not shown) do not suggest that the items more prevalent among
males are those most strongly associated with delinquency.
Turning to ERS practices, we found no differences in the total amounts of
cultural socialization or preparation for bias, although a few sex differences in
the frequency of particular practices were observed (“Sex Diffs” column in
Table 2).
20
For example, two differences in preparation for bias were observed
at wave 3. The average frequency of adults in the family talking about discrim-
ination or prejudice was higher for females, while males reported more fre-
quent messages that they will have to be better than others.
With slight evidence of sex/gender differences in ERS, we examined
whether these differences as well as others (gender norms, content of mes-
sages) may gender the effects of ERS. The comparison models for males are
presented in Table 5. We expect gender differences in the effects of ERS, but
given the paucity of prior work and its mixed results, we made no predictions
about the nature of these differences.
Comparing the results for the females presented in Table 4 and the males in
Table 5 reveals some striking similarities as well as noticeable differences.
First, we expected that the effect of racial discrimination on offending would
be stronger for males than females, given the “doubly deviant” nature of much
offending. An eyeball comparison of the coefficients in Model 1 lends initial
support for this hypothesis as the percent change in the expected count of
delinquency for males (65.5) is almost double that for females (34.7). A statis-
tical comparison of the coefficients, however, reveals that we cannot reject
the null hypothesis that the effect of discrimination is equivalent for males
and females (z= 1.51; p= .13).
21
Model 2 shows that the influence of the CKS
on offending is similar across sex. The increase in the expected count of delin-
quency for standard deviant increase in the CKS is approximately 60% for both
males and females. Moreover, Model 2 also indicates that the mediating effect
of the CKS is similar for males and females.
20. Table 2 displays ERS practices at wave 3. There were no sex differences observed in cultural
socialization at wave 4. For preparation for bias, sex differences were not observed for the total
scale, but females reported more frequent experiences of adult family members talking about dis-
crimination in their presence than males.
21. This statistical comparison of coefficients is based on Equation 4 in Paternoster et al. (1998).
DISCRIMINATION, ERS AND GENDER 557
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Table 5 Models examining the reslience effects of ERS on crime among males (n= 293).
Independent variables
Delinquency CKS Delinquency
Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4 Model 5 Model 6 Model 7 Model 8
%b%b%b%bbb%b%b
Control for prior outcome 24.4
⁄⁄⁄
8.9 17.8
⁄⁄
20.2
⁄⁄
.19
⁄⁄⁄
.20
⁄⁄⁄
11.7 9.6
Racial discrimination
w4
65.5
⁄⁄⁄
44.4
⁄⁄
68.1
⁄⁄⁄
69.1
⁄⁄⁄
.34
⁄⁄⁄
.35
⁄⁄⁄
49.2
⁄⁄
49.8
⁄⁄⁄
Age !4.9 4.2 !7.3 !6.9 !.09 !.09 !8.6 !5.0
Cultural socialization
w3 + w4
!1.4 !5.4 !.11
!.11
!8.0 !3.5
Preparation for bias
w3 + w4
!4.6 5.2 !.10 !.13
9.2 2.5
Authoritative parenting
w3 + w4
!16.7
⁄⁄
!15.9
!.26
⁄⁄⁄
!.26
⁄⁄⁄
!10.0 !6.3
Criminogenic knowledge structure (CKS) 60.8
⁄⁄⁄
58.6
⁄⁄⁄
55.2
⁄⁄⁄
Discrimination "cultural socialization 6.6 .04 6.9
Discrimination "preparation for bias !17.5
⁄⁄
!.06 !14.7
CKS "cultural socialization 22.3
⁄⁄
CKS "preparation for bias !29.5
⁄⁄⁄
R
2
.18 .27 .20 .21 .32 .32 .32 .28
Note. Standardized estimates shown. The results for the models predicting crime are negative binomial models and for CKS are OLS models. For the OLS models
the R
2
reported is the adjusted R
2
and for the NB models the ML (Cox-Snell) R
2
.%bindictates the percent change in the expected count of crime for a standard
deviation increase in the predictor, net of other variables.
⁄⁄⁄
p< .001;
⁄⁄
p< .01;
p< .05;
p<.07 (two-tailed tests).
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Finally, we investigate the resilience effects of ERS practices across sex. The
results displayed in Models 4-8 reveal interesting parallels and disparities. The
similarities are found in the lack of any observable effect of cultural socializa-
tion on these processes as well as the overall protective effect of preparation
for bias. The coefficient for the interaction term between preparation for bias
and racial discrimination in Model 4 is %b=!.18 for both males and females,
indicating preparation for bias reduces the influence of racial discrimination on
increased crime. When we turn to the question of how preparation for bias
exerts its protective effects, sex differences emerge. For females, as shown in
Model 6, preparation for bias reduces the effects of racial discrimination on the
development of the CKS, whereas for males, the protective effect is not
observed in the racial discriminationCKS link, but rather the association
between the CKS and offending (shown in Model 7). Recall for females, prepara-
tion for bias does not attenuate the link between the CKS and offending. Thus,
preparation for bias has an analogous reduction effect on the criminogenic
effects of racial discrimination, but it exerts its effect in gendered ways.
Discussion and Conclusion
For African Americans of both sexes, racial discrimination is “ubiquitous,
expected, integrated into the subtleties of interaction, and hard to deal with
…aforceful and tiring condition of everyday life” (Essed, 1991, p. 108). In
criminology, and social sciences more generally, theory and research into the
influence of interpersonal racial discrimination on social behaviors such as
crime had been curiously neglected for many years (e.g. Unnever et al., 2009).
This is no longer the case, as in recent years a number of studies have pointed
to the criminogenic consequences of racially discriminatory interactions for
African Americans. The evidence is clear: interpersonal racial discrimination is
criminogenic. Scholars have now moved on to the task of explaining the mech-
anisms of this effect and factors that provide resilience.
This line of research, however, has largely focused on black males. Here,
we examine these risk and resilience processes among a sample of African
American females. The present study sought to fill the gap in our understand-
ing of these processes among black femalesa relatively understudied popula-
tion in general and in criminology specifically (e.g. Rice, 1990). In doing so, we
highlighted racial discrimination as a race-specific risk factor for offending and
examined how discrimination experiences increase the risk of black females’
offending, drawing upon a social schematic theory. Building explicitly on a
recent study of black males (Burt et al., 2012), we focused upon cultural prac-
tices that have been shown to provide resilience to the criminogenic effects of
racial discrimination. Several important findings emerged from these analyses,
and they are discussed below. This is followed by a consideration of the impli-
cations of these findings, the limitations of the study, and directions for future
research.
DISCRIMINATION, ERS AND GENDER 559
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Replicating prior research, we found that discrimination significantly
increases the likelihood of offending among African American females. Drawing
upon a social schematic theory of offending, we found that interpersonal racial
discrimination exerted much of its effect through a CKS consisting of three
schemas: hostile views of relationships, disengagement from conventional
norms, and inability to delay gratification. The CKS mediated nearly 82% of the
effect of racial discrimination on offending, rendering the direct path between
racial discrimination and offending insignificant. Together these results add to
the evidence suggesting racial discrimination is criminogenic for both males
and females and provide support for a social schematic theory of offending.
Applying a model of ERS as resilience, we found that one type of ERS prac-
tice–preparation for biasreduced the criminogenic effects of racial discrimi-
nation for black females. Preparation for bias exerted its buffering effect by
reducing the effects of racial discrimination on the CKS. Female youths whose
families engaged in high levels of preparation for bias were much less likely to
develop a view of the world as hostile, unpredictable, and unfair as a result of
racial discrimination. While further research is needed to understand how
preparation for bias provides resilience, these results demonstrate that prepa-
ration for bias does reduce the effects of racial discrimination on the likeli-
hood of offending among black females. Moreover, this study can be added to
the mounting evidence demonstrating that ERS practices equip youth with
tools to deal with discrimination in more adaptive ways (e.g. Hughes et al.,
2006). Although cultural socialization did not play a protective role in these
processes, it has been identified as an important factor in promoting positive
psychological adjustment among African Americans in a racist society in many
other ways (e.g. Hughes et al., 2006; Stevenson et al., 1997).
The final goal of this study was to compare these findings across sex. We
found that there were sex differences in the frequency of specific types of dis-
crimination as well as the total amount, with males reporting more discrimina-
tion experiences, on average, than females. This is not surprising as a number
of studies show that males are more frequent targets of racial discrimination
(e.g. Chavous, Rivas-Drake, Smalls, Griffin, & Cogburn, 2008; Sellers & Shelton,
2003), perhaps because they are viewed as a greater threat to the “dominant”
group of white males. Alternatively, it is also likely that females’ “double
jeopardy” leads them to consider some discriminatory experiences as sexism,
when they may be equally or even more strongly due to race.
Sex/gender differences in ERS practices were slight. In contrast to some
research that indicates significant sex differences in preparation for bias and
cultural socialization, with males reporting higher levels of the former and
females more of the latter, the current study did not find any evidence of sex
differences in overall levels of cultural socialization or preparation for bias.
We also did not find substantial sex differences in the types of socialization
practices in which families were engaged. While this is somewhat surprising,
prior research points to the possibility that ERS practices may be nuanced by
gender in ways that are not captured by fairly non-specific frequency scales
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such as that used in the present study. While parents may talk about prejudice
and discrimination with their male and female children at about the same fre-
quency, the content and tone of these messages may differ. This idea is con-
sistent with our findings of differences in the effects of preparation for bias,
to which we now turn.
Preparation for bias significantly attenuated the effects of racial discrimina-
tion on offending for both males and females; however, the way in which it
exerted its protective effects differed. Whereas for females preparation for
bias reduced offending by attenuating the effect of racial discrimination on
cognitive schemas conducive to offending, for males, preparation for bias did
not weaken discrimination’s effects on the CKS, but rather reduced the likeli-
hood that the CKS would lead to crime. Thus, the protective effects of prepa-
ration for bias operated on the interpretation and internalization of the
cognitive factors engendered by racial discrimination for females and on the
response to resulting schemas for males. In other words, preparation for bias
attenuated the link between discrimination and the development of a cynical,
mistrusting worldview among females, whereas for males, it influenced how
the CKS shaped definitions of the situation and/or responses to such defini-
tions.
There are several potential explanations for this sex/gender difference in
the protective effects of preparation for bias. First, as noted, research indi-
cates that African American parents are well aware of the fact that racism is
gendered and that their sons and daughters will face gender-specific obstacles
(e.g. Ward, 1996). Parents may be preparing their children for these different
experiences with nuanced differences in the content and form of preparation
for bias across sex, such that males may receive more direct warnings and
action scripts about dealing with potentially combustible discrimination experi-
ences (recall the “Lesson” that African American males receive from their
fathers, e.g. Russell-Brown, 2009), which may operate to protect against dis-
crimination by making them less likely to react with offending to situations
which they may define–as a result of discriminationas threatening or coer-
cive. Females’ preparation communications may be more directly tied to the
emotional aspects of these experiences, perhaps opening lines of emotional
social support for discussion, which enables them to avoid internalizing the
antagonistic messages inherent in racial discrimination. Additionally, observed
sex differences in the workings of preparation for bias are also consistent with
gender norms, which encourage emotional support seeking for females while
discouraging such support for males as being inconsistent with masculinity (e.
g. Gilligan, 1982; Rosenthal & Gesten, 1986).
An additional explanation for the observed gender differences could be due
to the unique positions of African American males and females in society that
necessitate different survival strategies (e.g. Essed, 1991; Franklin, 1999; Ste-
venson, 2003). Social schemas, criminogenic and otherwise, promote adaptive
responses to situations, responses that have evolved with the immediate goal
of survival and self-preservation. As Stevenson (2003, p. 17) reminds us
DISCRIMINATION, ERS AND GENDER 561
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referring to hostile views of relationships: “The bias is present because of a
real threat in the environment. Even the toughest black males are afraid of
being victimized.” Black males, more so than females, face a real threat of
physical harm, not only by enemies, but occasionally from “friends” and
authorities as well (Anderson, 1999; Stevenson, 2003). Thus, the CKS may be
more adaptive or functional for certain minority males in certain contexts.
Rather than weakening the link between racial discrimination and a set of
schemas that promote wary, mistrusting, and self-protecting situational defini-
tions, for males, bias preparation shapes how they deal with such situations
(determining when the threat is real, how best to respond given the racist ste-
reotype of the criminalblackman). There are several potentially fruitful expla-
nations for the gendered effects of preparation for bias. When these findings
are replicated, further research should seek to unpack the processes producing
these sex/gender differences.
Although we believe the results of this study make an important contribu-
tion to the body of knowledge on racial discrimination, ERS, and offending and
start to fill the gap in our understanding of these processes among females, it
is not without limitations. For example, the sample consists of African
American families living in Iowa and Georgia at the time of the first interview.
We assume that the processes we identified here are not limited to this sample
or these contexts, but it is important that future research replicates these
findings using different samples. Another caveat is related to our perceptual
measure of racial discrimination. We assume our respondents were relatively
accurate in reporting instances of racial discrimination, an assumption bol-
stered by the growing body of research that attests to the validity of percep-
tual measures and, specifically, the SRE instrument (Landrine & Klonoff, 1996).
Nonetheless, it is important that future researchers continue to explore the
validity of discrimination measures and attempt to further unpack its gendered
content and form.
Despite these limitations, this investigation contributes in important ways to
our understanding of the criminogenic effects of interpersonal racial discrimi-
nation among females and provides support for a social schematic theory. Con-
sistent with a study of African American males (e.g. Burt et al., 2012), these
results provide evidence that preparation for bias is an important resilience
factor to the criminogenic risk of racial discrimination. Given evidence of the
significance of ERS practices as well as the evidence sex/gender differences,
future research needs to go beyond measuring whether or not parents transmit
various messages and capture the specific content of these messages, including
the nature of various competency- and identity-building communications, so
we can better understand how ERS provides resilience and enhance our under-
standing of gender differences. Future research might also focus on the effects
of discrimination and ERS as it relates to different types of crime while attend-
ing to sex/gender differences. Finally, future research needs to explore these
processes among other ethnic-racial groups.
562 BURT AND SIMONS
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These findings, combined with existing research, point to the crime-reduction
potential of anti-racist strategies (Feagin, 2010). Given the stubborn persistence
of racism in American society, African Americans face a unique risk factor for
crime in the form of interpersonal racial discrimination. Despite the consider-
able diversity in the black community, all African Americans must make sense
out of and cope with racism and discrimination (Ward, 2000). In the face of
racism, African Americans have developed adaptive cultural practices, which
provide some psychological protection for youth in a racist society (Stevenson
et al., 2003). This study can be added to the growing body of work that highlights
the role of ERS in protecting black youth from maladjustment. Although these
results need to be replicated, they point to the potential of ERS interventions to
promote positive adjustment, including reducing the likelihood of offending, in
the face of racial antagonism. Although there is a dearth of research into
culturally sensitive, evidence-based intervention practices, a few studies have
documented positive effects of interventions incorporating ERS with African
American families (e.g. the Strong African American Families Program, Brody,
et al., 2004) and communities (e.g. Preventing Long-term Anger and Aggression
in Youth Project; Stevenson, 2003). Certainly, the onus should not be on African
Americans to deal with discrimination, but in the wake of major social changes,
ERS is one tool that African American families are utilizing to promote resilience
to interpersonal racial discrimination.
Acknowledgements
This research uses data from the FACHS, a project designed by Ron Simons,
Frederick Gibbons, and Carolyn Cutrona, and funded by grants from the
National Institute of Mental Health (MH48165, MH62669), the Center for
Disease Control (029136-02), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (DA021898),
and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The authors thank
Alyssa Chamberlain, John Hepburn, Tanja Link, and Nancy Rodriguez for
valuable comments on earlier drafts of the manuscript.
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Appendix A: Items in the CKS Measure
(I) Immediate Gratification
Here are some things that people say about themselves. Please tell me if this is
(1) not at all true, (2) somewhat true, or (3) very true.
Items reverse coded.
(1) You have to have everything right away. Is that…
(2) You would rather have a small gift today than a large gift tomorrow. Is
that…
(3) You enjoy taking risks. Is that…
(4) You would enjoy fast driving. Is that…
(5) You would do almost anything for a dare. Is that…
(6) Life with no danger would be dull for you. Is that…
(7) When you have to wait in line, you do it patiently. Is that…
(8) You have to be reminded several times to do things. Is that…
(9) You could be described as careless. Is that…
(10) You like to switch from one thing to another. Is that…
(11) You would prefer doing something dangerous rather than sitting quietly.
Is that …
(12) You stick with what you are doing until you are finished with it. Is that…
(13) You could do something most people would consider dangerous like driv-
ing a car fast. Is that …
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(II) Hostile View of Relationships (All items reverse coded)
(A) Please tell me how true or false each of the following statements is about
you
Response Categories: 1 = mostly true,2=mostly false.
(14) People often try to take advantage of you. Is this …
(15) You have often been lied to. Is this …
(16) When people are friendly, they usually just want something from you. Is
this …
(17) Some people oppose you for no good reason. Is this …
(B) Now, please tell me how much you agree or disagree with the following
statements
Response Categories: 1 = strongly agree, 2 = agree, 3 = disagree, 4 = strongly dis-
agree.
(18) People tend to respect a person who is tough and aggressive. Do you …
(19) People will take advantage of you if you don’t let them know how tough
you are. Is this …
(20) If you don’t let people know you will defend yourself, they will think you
are weak and take advantage of you …
(21) It is important to show other people that you cannot be intimidated. Do
you …
(22) Sometimes you need to threaten people in order to get them to treat you
fairly. Do you …
(23) Behaving aggressively is often an effective way of dealing with someone
who is taking advantage of you. Do you …
(24) It is important to let others know that if they do something wrong to you,
you will make them pay for it. Do you …
(25) Being viewed as tough and aggressive is important for gaining respect. Do
you …
(III) Disengagement from Conventional Norms (All items reverse coded)
How wrong do you think it is for someone your age to …
Response categories: 1 = not at all wrong, 2 = a little bit wrong, 3 = fairly wrong,
4 = very wrong.
(26) Hit someone with the idea of hurting them?
(27) Use marijuana?
(28) Cheat on a test?
(29) Lie to teachers or parents?
(30) Sell marijuana or other illicit drugs?
(31) Have casual sex (intercourse with multiple partners)?
(32) Cheat on their romantic partner?
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... Street life becomes a "problem-solving effort of the family system" (Brown-Baatjies et al., 2008, p. 90) and street-identified Black mothers who participate in illegal activities typically do so to confront the "strainful" effects of economic poverty and structural oppression (Agnew, 2007;Hitchens & Payne, 2017, Forthcoming;Payne, 2008Payne, , 2011. These conditions draw some Black women and girls to the viability of the streets and also increase their likelihood of using crime to achieve culturally defined goals and means of success (Agnew, 2007;Burt & Simons, 2015). Black mothers in the streets find psychological and physical spaces of resilience that operate concurrently to produce sites of strength at the individual, familial, and community levels (Hitchens, 2020;Hitchens & Payne, 2017;Payne, 2011). ...
... Street-identified Black American mothers rationalize the duality of street life and motherhood by conceptualizing their street involvement in terms of survival-a mechanism to minimize, cope with, or alleviate complex forms of oppression. They learn to adapt to adverse conditions using a creative repertoire or "tool kit" that is shaped by their cultural habits, skills, and styles structuring their choices, behaviors, and decision-making (Burt & Simons, 2015;Swidler, 1986). This repertoire includes using three types of fluid mothering strategies: (1) constrained mothering, (2) racialized mothering, and (3) aspirational mothering. ...
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Using components of the Family Adjustment and Adaptation Response Model, Critical Race Feminism, and Sites of Resilience, this study explored how street‐identified Black American mothers engage in street life, while juggling the pressures of childrearing, family, and home life within a distressed, urban Black community. Street‐identified Black American mothers are vilified for their intersecting identities of being Black women who are experiencing poverty, and who may also be involved in illegal activity. Black mothers are disproportionately represented in the criminal legal system, but existing research has inadequately examined how street‐identified Black mothers “do” family in the confines of structural violence. We addressed this gap by analyzing interview data with 39 street‐identified Black American mothers ages 18 to 54. Data were collected using street participatory action research. We identified a typology of three adaptive mothering strategies employed by street‐identified Black women as they respond to and cope with violent structural conditions shaping their mothering: constrained mothering, racialized mothering, and aspirational mothering. Findings suggested that these strategies were developed in response to an overarching carceral apparatus, of which these mothers were tasked with avoiding when possible and confronting when necessary. Their mothering strategies were shaped by a collective, Black American cultural identity and worldview, and the mothers possessed a unique way of perceiving the world as criminalized subjects with disproportionate proximity to the punitive state.
... The effect of discrimination on involvement in the criminal justice system is often framed in terms of systemic biases operating on higher-order ecological levels [8], but evidence linking interpersonal discrimination with criminal justice outcomes is scant. Importantly, personal experiences with racial discrimination are associated with several social and health sequelae that are closely related to incarceration [9]. Some research has addressed the links between race/ethnicity and discrimination based on attitudes and perceptions toward felony offenders [10,11], but these findings are limited to post-incarceration experiences of other non-racial types of discrimination. ...
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Objective: Racial discrimination and racial identity may compete to influence incarceration risk. We estimated the predicted days incarcerated in a national US sample of Black, Latino/Latina, and American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) individuals. Methods: We used the 2012-2013 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions-III (n = 14,728) to identify individual incarceration history. We used zero-inflated Poisson regression to predict the number of days incarcerated across racial discrimination and racial identity scores. Results: Racial discrimination and identity varied between races/ethnicities, such that racial discrimination exposure was highest among Hispanic individuals, while racial identity was highest among Black individuals. Racial discrimination was positively associated with days incarcerated among Black individuals (β = 0.070, p<0.0001) and AI/AN individuals (β = 0.174, p<0.000). Racial identity was negatively associated with days incarcerated among Black individuals (β = -0.147, p<0.0001). The predicted number of days incarcerated was highest among Black individuals (130 days) with high discrimination scores. Conclusion: Racial discrimination and racial identity were associated with days incarcerated, and the association varied by racial/ethnic sub-group. Informed by these findings, we suggest that intervention strategies targeting incarceration prevention should be tailored to the unique experiences of racial/ethnic minoritized individuals at the greatest risk. Policies aimed at reversing mass incarceration should consider how carceral systems fit within the wider contexts of historical racism, discrimination, and structural determinants of health.
... Studies have also substantiated the relationship between racial and ethnic discrimination and offending in gender-specific samples, as well as in samples of children, adolescents, and young adults. For example, Burt and Simons (2015) demonstrated that higher levels of racial discrimination increased delinquency among African American females, an effect that was completely mediated by criminogenic knowledge structure-a latent construct measured via discounting the future, hostile views of relationships, and disengagement from conventional norms. Additionally, Simons et al. (2003) found that exposure to discrimination among African American children aged 10-12 years was the strongest predictor of (increases in) subsequent delinquent behavior; Martin et al. (2011) found that higher levels of perceived personal discrimination among 10-17 year old youth were associated with significantly higher levels of general delinquency and violent behavior, controlling for lagged delinquency; and Jones and Greene (2016) found that self-reported offending behavior increased by more than 15% for every one unit increase in perceived discrimination among African American college students. ...
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A growing body of research links interpersonal racial and ethnic discrimination to adverse youth outcomes. Yet, studies examining the relevance of neighborhood context for discrimination are sparse. This study examines neighborhood-level variation in the incidence and impact of perceived racial and ethnic discrimination on depressive symptoms, suicidal behavior, violent behavior, and substance use. Hierarchical regression models on a sample of 1333 African American and Hispanic youth (52.44% female; x̄ = 13.03 years, SD = 3.25 at wave 1) residing in 238 Chicago neighborhoods from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods indicated little to no neighborhood-level variation in the incidence and impact of discrimination. Findings suggest that the experience of discrimination among youth of color is ubiquitous.
... 76,78,82 Studies of the protective role of preparation of bias messages have found that these messages attenuated the effects of discrimination on delinquency and decreased the impact of discrimination on perceived stress. 82,83 Some research suggests that promotion of mistrust is associated with poorer psychological outcomes. 74 However, the protective role of specific types of ethnic-racial socialization messages may vary for different ethnic groups. ...
Article
Black, Indigenous, and other Youth of Color (BIPOC youth) experience racism from a young age. These experiences have both immediate and long-term impacts on their health and wellbeing. Systemic racism contributes to the inequitable distribution of health resources and other social determinants of health, creating barriers to accessing care. Substance use disorders and sexual/nonsexual risk behaviors have been linked to experiences of racism in BIPOC youth. The legacy of generational racial trauma can frame behaviors and attitudes in the present, undermining health and survival in this group. BIPOC youth also face difficulties navigating spheres characterized as white spaces. Ethnic-racial socialization may promote resilience and help with coping in the context of racial stress. While many professional health organizations have embraced dismantling racism, a shift in the narrative on racial values will be critical for preventing adversity and achieving health equity for BIPOC youth.
... Contrary to our hypothesis, racial barrier messages did not moderate the effects of racial discrimination on SBW endorsement. This null finding diverges from previous research that has found racial barrier messages to moderate associations between discrimination and Black youth's psychosocial outcomes (Burt & Simons, 2015;Neblett, Rivas-Drake, & Umaña-Taylor, 2012;Richardson et al., 2015). Furthermore, given prior theoretical and qualitative research that suggests that Black girls are socialized to be strong and that Black mothers identify SBW-related attributes (i.e., independence, assertiveness, strong-willed) as critical to navigating race-and gender-based discrimination (Belgrave, 2009;Oshin & Milan, 2019;Sharp & Ispa, 2009), we would have expected that racial barrier messages would have strengthened the effects of racial discrimination on SBW endorsement. ...
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