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Gendered Racism: The Protective Power of Social Support for Black Men

We recently had a conversation with Kevin Ramseur II, a doctoral candidate at George Mason University, to discuss his important study on how social support quality and the relevance of gendered racial identity affect Black men's experiences of gendered racism stress and its psychological consequences. This significant work is featured in our flagship journal, Psychology of Men & Masculinities (full cite below).

Ramseur, K. II, Cattaneo, L. B., Stori, S., & Adams, L. (2024). Black men need friends: Social support moderates the connection between gendered racism and psychological distress. Psychology of Men & Masculinities, 25(1), 13–26.

What were the key questions you were addressing in this article?

  1. Does gendered racism stress predict psychological distress above and beyond the role of gender role stress alone?

  2. Does perceived social support moderate the relationship between gendered racism stress and psychological distress?

  3. Does the racial makeup of social and professional environments moderate the relationship between gendered racism stress and psychological distress?

  4. Does gendered racial identity centrality moderate the relationship between gendered racism stress and psychological distress?

What were the main conclusions of your article?

Gendered racism stress was positively associated with psychological distress above and beyond gender role stress, financial stress, health stress, age, education, and income. Gendered racism stress may explain psychological distress in Black men above and beyond the role of many other potential risk factors, such as gender role stress, financial stress, and health stress. The unique and gendered way that racism targets Black men – including stereotypes about violent behavior, absent fatherhood, and athletic interests – leads to increased distress for Black men regardless of age or social class.

Social support buffered the relationship between gendered racism stress and psychological distress. Simple slopes analyses indicated that gendered racism stress no longer had a significant relationship with psychological distress when high satisfaction with social support was present. Black men with supportive social networks may have some protection from the harmful effects of gendered racism.

The main effect of racial makeup of social environment on psychological distress may indicate that for Black men, shared race (i.e., Black friends) is associated with increased quality of social support. However, the lack of buffer effect may be related to other system-level factors (e.g., housing segregation) that may correlate with same-race friendships, gendered racism stress, and psychological distress.

Gendered racial identity centrality may be an important concept but was likely constrained by the unique sample which reported higher than average centrality scores in comparison to previous studies.

What are the key implications of your article for research, policy, or practice?

Research: Individuals and communities who experience frequent and stressful gendered racism experiences may benefit from social support interventions geared towards increasing satisfaction with their networks.

Practice: We suggest clinical practice guidelines adjust to inform those working with Black men to attend to the ways gendered racism stress has shaped their current levels of psychological distress.

Policy: At the policy level, these results underscore the need to reduce racial inequities in economics and healthcare, as financial and health stress are associated with a wide range of negative outcomes, including psychological distress.

Where do you see this line of research heading in the future (i.e., what's next)?

This research will inform the development of a gender-sensitive mental health intervention for Black men. I am currently in the process of proposing a dissertation that will a) review the literature on mental health interventions for social relationships designed or adapted for men and b) pilot a culturally responsive mental health intervention for Black men that seeks to increase the quality of social support, social connections, and belonging.

How did you become interested in this line of inquiry?

My interest in this field developed over time through my life experiences as a Black man who is a member of a large, close-knit family. For generations, stories have been passed down about the importance of community, whether that be religious, familial, geographic, or ethnic. In recent years, as I have seen the people in my network spread across the country and isolated by the COVID-19 pandemic, it has never been more clear to me that the values of collectivism, shared responsibility, and giving back have been lost in translation, and we are seeing the negative outcomes in the increasing rates of depression, loneliness, and suicide in the Black community. Through research and clinical work, I hope to partner with others in my community to help address these issues.

Kevin Ramseur II, M.S.


George Mason University

Doctoral Student, Clinical Psychology

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