racism/oppression; intersectionality; stress; trauma; psychological well-being; minority college students


Social and Behavioral Sciences


Prior research underscored the association between experiences of racism and biopsychosocial outcomes for minority college students, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and negative impacts on physical health. Within the lens of social justice, power is often ascertained by increased wellness and education attainment; therefore, addressing minority college students’ experiences of racism is critical to advancing national efforts to eliminate health disparities and for achieving social equity. Thus, this mixed methods study used an online survey to examine the prevalence of experiences of racism and/or oppression (e.g. sexism) for a convenience sample of undergraduate and graduate minority college students. Quantitative data (n=215) showed that 85.1% (n=183) reported experiences of racism/oppression, while among this group 85.2% (n=156) reported the experience as stressful, and 38.3% (n=70) as traumatic. Qualitative data (n=228) from responses to open-ended questions, revealed: Category I’s 8 emergent themes on “ways of coping/bouncing back/healing from racism/oppression;” and, Category II’s 7 themes for “ways in which the colleges can assist students experiencing stress and trauma.” Collectively, the study findings suggest that experiences of racism and/or oppression are highly prevalent, while students are resilient in coping with stress and trauma; and, students recommend practical strategies for colleges to better support the psychological well-being of minority students. The study findings offer implications for social justice and provide possible strategies for colleges, as well as professionals to use in order to enhance the academic achievement and improve the health outcomes of minority college students.