New Study Addresses How Racism Affects Black Couples

Woman resting head on shoulder of man

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A new study from Cornell University is looking at how everyday racism affects Black couples.

The research was published nearly a month ago and included nearly 100 Black couples from the Chicago area. Participants completed online surveys about their daily experiences for 21 consecutive evenings. On average, participants were 36 years old and in their current relationship for seven years.

In the surveys, couples were asked to measure their relationship quality, trust, intimacy, and the impact of "experiencing 20 different daily experiences of racial discrimination." Racist incidents include disrespectful treatment, being mistaken for a person of the same race, and offensive jokes.

Researchers found that the relationship suffered when a partner was “angered or saddened by an incident of routine racism." The study noted this happened regardless of gender.

"Participants said a partner’s anger, depression or humiliation from a racist experience spilled over into their relationship, with one consequence being lower levels of passion or intimacy," according to Cornell Chronicle. "The effects were greater when negative feelings intensified, versus when positive feelings diminished."

“These findings advance our understanding of the social effects of everyday racism and the various ways it can impinge on the interpersonal flourishing of African American couples,” Anthony Ong says, professor of psychology in the College of Human Ecology (CHE) and professor of gerontology in medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine.

Even though the research is the first of its kind, Ong is still calling for more research.

You can check out the full study HERE.

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