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Racial Battle Fatigue: The Long-Term Effects of Racial Microaggressions on African American Boys and Men

The International Handbook of Black Community Mental Health

ISBN: 978-1-83909-965-6, eISBN: 978-1-83909-964-9

Publication date: 8 June 2020


African American males experience acute or chronic stress from discriminatory treatment and racial microaggressions, decreasing their biopsychosocial health. Racial microaggressions include but are not limited to merciless and mundane exclusionary messages, being treated as less than fully human, and civil and human rights violations. Racial microaggressions are key to understanding increases in racial battle fatigue (Smith, 2004) resulting from the psychological and physiological stress that racially marginalized individuals/groups experience in response to specific race-related interactions between them and the surrounding dominant environment. Race-related stress taxes and exceeds available resilient coping resources for people of color, while many whites easily build sociocultural and economic environments and resources that shield them from race-based stress and threats to their racial entitlements.

What is at stake, here, is the quest for equilibrium versus disequilibrium in a society that marginalizes human beings into substandard racial groups. Identifying and counteracting the biopsychosocial and behavioral consequences of actual or perceived racism, gendered racism, and racial battle fatigue is a premier challenge of the twenty-first century. The term “racial microaggressions” was introduced in the 1970s to help psychiatrists and psychologists understand the enormity and complications of the subtle but constant racial blows faced by African Americans. Today, racial microaggressions continue to contribute to the negative experiences of African American boys and men in schools, at work, and in society. This chapter will focus on the definition, identification, and long-term effects of racial microaggressions and the resultant racial battle fatigue in anti-black misandric environments.


Smith, W.A., David, R. and Stanton, G.S. (2020), "Racial Battle Fatigue: The Long-Term Effects of Racial Microaggressions on African American Boys and Men", Majors, R., Carberry, K. and Ransaw, T.S. (Ed.) The International Handbook of Black Community Mental Health, Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 83-92.



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