Using the Science of Psychology to Target Perpetrators of Racism and Race-Based Discrimination for Intervention Efforts: Preventing Another Trayvon Martin Tragedy

  • Vickie M. Mays, PhD, MSPH University of California,Los Angeles, Departments of Psychology and Health Policy and Management and UCLA Center for Bridging Research Innovation, Training and Education in Minority Health Disparities Solution
  • Denise Johnson, JD UCLA Center for Bridging Research Innovation, Training and Education in Minority Health Disparities Solution
  • Courtney N. Coles, MPH University of California,Los Angeles, Departments of Psychology and Health Policy and Management and UCLA Center for Bridging Research Innovation, Training and Education in Minority Health Disparities Solution
  • Denise Gellene, MBA Clinical and Translational Science Institute; University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine
  • Susan D. Cochran, PhD, MS PhD, MSPH; University of California,Los Angeles, Departments of Epidemiology and Statistics and UCLA Center for Bridging Research Innovation, Training and Education in Minority Health Disparities Solution
Keywords: Prejudice, Discrimination, Bias, African Americans, Men, Rodney King, War on drugs

Abstract

Psychological science offers a variety of methods to both understand and intervene when acts of potential racial or ethnic racism, bias or prejudice occur. The Trayvon Martin killing is a reminder of how vulnerable African American men and boys, especially young African American men, are to becoming victims of social inequities in our society. We examine several historical events of racial bias (the Los Angeles civil disturbance after the Rodney King verdict, the federal government’s launch of a “War on Drugs” and the killing of Trayvon Martin) to illustrate the ways in which behaviors of racism and race-based discrimination can be viewed from a psychological science lens in the hopes of eliminating and preventing these behaviors. If society is to help end the genocide of African American men and boys then we must broaden our focus from simply understanding instances of victimization to a larger concern with determining how policies, laws, and societal norms serve as the foundation for maintaining implicit biases that are at the root of race-based discrimination, prejudice, bias and inequity. In our call to action, we highlight the contributions that psychologists, particularly racial and ethnic minority professionals, can make to reduce the negative impact of racial and ethnic bias through their volunteer/pro bono clinical efforts.
Published
2013-04-01
How to Cite
Mays, PhD, MSPH, V. M., Johnson, JD, D., Coles, MPH, C. N., Gellene, MBA, D., & Cochran, PhD, MS, S. D. (2013). Using the Science of Psychology to Target Perpetrators of Racism and Race-Based Discrimination for Intervention Efforts: Preventing Another Trayvon Martin Tragedy. Journal for Social Action in Counseling & Psychology, 5(1), 11-36. https://doi.org/10.33043/JSACP.5.1.11-36