Week_10_qualitative_Brizer - 22 Journal of African American...

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Unformatted text preview: 22 Journal of African American Studies / Fall 2006 Michael L. Birzer teaches in the School of Community Affairs at Wichita State University. Jackquice Smith-Mahdi teaches at University of North Texas-Dallas. Journal of African American Studies , Fall 2006, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp. 22-37. Does Race Matter? The Phenomenology of Discrimination Experienced among African Americans Michael L. Birzer and Jackquice Smith-Mahdi This qualitative phenomenological study explores perceived discrimination among African American women and men living in Topeka, Kansas. Focus groups and in-depth interviews with 15 African American women and men examined their experiences with perceived discrimination. The theoretical framework guiding this study is predicated under the assumption of symbolic racism. Four major themes emerged during data analysis (1) shopping experiences, (2) law enforcement contact, (3) employment, and (4) Black in Topeka. The essential, invariant structure of dis- crimination as experienced by African Americans was identified as fear, frustration, depression, and anger. The research paints a portrait of the everyday struggles that participants experience in this community due to discrimination. Discrimination based on race is a phenomenon that many in the white majority class will never have to experience. However, for many African Americans dis- crimination remains prevalent in their daily lives (Feagin, Vera, & Batur, 2001). Discrimination has had a long and deplorable history in the United States. Past government support of slavery exemplify a record of racist ideology which perhaps has perpetuated discrimination currently experienced by many African Americans (Bennett, Merritt, & Edwards, 2004; Feagin, Vera, & Batur, 2001; Feagin, 1991; Yates, 1995). Moreover, the state of African Americans was created in slavery and subsequently took shape over three hundred years of racial oppression. Few in the White majority class fully understand the depth and hostility African Americans face, or the sheer effort African Americans contend with simply to survive. Undeni- able, other groups have been subjected with various forms of discrimination, but no other minority with the exception of the Native American, has been so regulated to the farthest corners of American life (Belcourt-Dittloff & Stewart, 2000; King & Springwood, 1999; Patterson, 1998). The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study is to describe African Americans experiences with perceived discrimination. The phenomenological re- Birzer and Smith-Mahdi 23 flections of discrimination experienced by African Americans can provide valuable information which is useful to fully understand how African Americans contextu- alize meaning to and cope with experiences of discrimination. Furthermore, these reflections may be beneficial for those authorities responsible for fundamental policy development within communities which center on race and diversity....
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Week_10_qualitative_Brizer - 22 Journal of African American...

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