Racial distancing and sensitivity to stigmatization among future black professionals
Professional occupations requiring higher education have long been paths to upward mobility for Black people in the United States. This mobility has historically been tied to both social and economic advancement. Whether advancement was subjective or objective, there was some form of distancing from the broader Black community. The three studies of the present dissertation used national and regional samples to test the problem of whether future Black professionals endorsed racial distancing behaviors. Results showed that racial distancing was composed of economic and social components. Moreover, high levels of Black social interactions and high ratings of emotional bonds to the Black community were negative determinants of the social distance defined as group distancing. High levels of emotional bonds alone were negative determinants of economic distancing. Characteristics of high racial distancing included discomfort in Black social spaces and a desire to turn one’s back on the Black community for advancement. Though racial distancing was present, approximately 73 percent of the national sample was low in economic and group distancing. In examining reasons for racial distancing, the regional sample results showed that a majority of respondents were highly sensitive to racial stigmatization whether or not they were from racially diverse communities or predominantly Black spaces. Racial distancing was observed in a small minority of the regional sample, indicated by a low desire to be identified by race in college and job applications.