The Psychology of American Racism by Roberts & Rizzo

Topic: Psychological Principles
Words: 1707 Pages: 6

Roberts and Rizzo’s (2021) article covers racism, particularly in the U.S. The authors posit that discrimination is a learned aspect that proceeds due to some underlying psychological facets that can be corrected. According to the scholars, America provides an appropriate platform to study xenophobia due to several factors. Among such (factors) include the nation’s long-existing racial conflicts due to multiple races, the country’s history of enslavement, and the many past studies on racism present in the country. As such, Roberts and Rizzo’s (2021) article proceeds as a review of numerous other studies covering the issue of racialism in the U.S. and around the world. The scholars show that discrimination continues to date because of definite psychological factors, which need to be understood if the world is to do away with the vice. The present work is, thus, a review of the two psychologists’ work.

Roberts and Rizzo’s article mainly confirm that racism exists on Earth due to the unconscious psychological support that the vice gets from humans. The work starts by quoting the late Dr. King’s dream of an America where children will interact openly without the influence of prejudice. Roberts and Rizzo further report that it is almost half a century since Dr. King dreamt about this noble cause, whereas a look at the state of xenophobia only shows that things are getting worse. The truth in this statement then leads to the article’s concern that racialism must have some driving factors that work either consciously or unconsciously. To clear the wind, Roberts and Rizzo (2021) list seven factors that fall under different disciplines, including psychology. The scholars argue that humans are to blame for the worsening racist situation, especially in the U.S.

The seven factors covered by Roberts and Rizzo include categories, factions, segregation, hierarchy, power, media, and passivism. That way, Roberts and Rizzo (2021) use a collection of scientific studies relating each of the seven factors to racisms to prove their case. Notwithstanding, Roberts and Rizzo maintain that discrimination is a vice that can be eliminated for the U.S. to realize Dr. King Jr.’s dream. However, the scholars point out that until people understand the underlying psychological factors that fuel bias, the U.S. will not become the nation many antiracists anticipate. As per the researchers, bigotry is a dangerous aspect that causes rift among people and makes it difficult for positive social energy to grow to better human lives.

Roberts and Rizzo’s article report that psychology holds the ability to explain the problem of racism. The two psychologists believe that the world stands to become a better place if humans can use knowledge, wisdom, and understanding, to comprehend and question vices that affect the global society. Roberts and Rizzo (2021) compare bigotry to capitalism, which attracts excessive studies while people seek to better human lives by understanding economic forces. Nonetheless, racial discrimination attracts significantly reduced attention relative to the other social problems, making it necessary for the likes of Roberts and Rizzo to act. By covering the seven factors that fuel discrimination, Roberts and Rizzo purpose of initiating a new zeal among psychologists and global populations to apply the discipline to find answers to different issues that affect humanity.

Better still, both Roberts and Rizzo purpose of taking their readers and the global population to a new level of understanding that creates room for a collective war against racialism. Such is shown by the researchers’ placement of the ‘Antiracist Road Ahead’ chapter towards the end of the article (Roberts & Rizzo, 2021). The chapter informs the readers and the world that America’s racism is an organized facet. The vice receives its organization from categories, activated by factions, toughened by segregation, encouraged by hierarchy, enacted by power, vindicated by media, and ignored by passivism to thrive to date.

The various human-dependent factors that fuel racism constitute the article’s specific psychological issues. For example, Roberts and Rizzo (2021) have a problem with how races are openly classified in the U.S. and several other European nations. The scholars maintain that reporting America’s census information based on different races’ sizes amounts to a significant problem that requires a solution. The racial classification and reporting during the census process, for instance, presents some groups as majorities and others as minorities. The majorities, thus, tend to develop a wrong feeling that they own or have control over things in the nation and that the minorities need to respect them.

Classifying Americans in terms of races also leads to the issue of minimal group phenomenon, where group members tend to defend their group by becoming hostile to the other clusters. The problem amounts to group factions, which unconsciously or consciously lead to inter-racial fights, stimulating racism. According to Roberts and Rizzo (2021), America’s reporting of census figures erroneously promotes racial categories, while the matter requires psychological insight to unravel. Better still, redlining and other segregating practices in the U.S. also constitute critical concerns among Roberts and Rizzo. The scholars maintain that political and social policies requiring Caucasians to access permits to live in specific areas, while Blacks and the other minorities live in different regions, promotes discrimination. The aspect allows young children from the White and Black groups to grow knowing that they should not interact with the other races. The article further maintains that parents, especially mothers, in all the segregated groups teach their children the essence of avoiding members of the other groups, leading to racial segregation.

According to the article, hierarchy in the U.S. communities also promotes racialism. The aspect amounts to a significant social problem that Roberts and Rizzo (2021) maintain should be resolved. Ranking mainly results from the reports of population sizes and the attribution of power and control to the majority groups. As per Roberts and Rizzo, about seventy-seven per cent of the U.S. population consists of Whites, while the other races form the remaining twenty-three per cent of the nation’s populace. The matter directly implies that Caucasians have control over the other groups, promoting racism. As the majority group, American Whites feel that they should be the ones in leadership, as observed by Roberts and Rizzo (2021). Any time someone from another race occupies the nation’s governance, the Whites feel threatened. Better still, the large number of Caucasians also push many non-Whites to think that the majorities have the power to dominate issues. The erroneous perspective leads to unwarranted permissiveness and failure to object to hurting treatments advanced on people of color by the majorities, thus progressing bigotry.

Hierarchy also makes many people of color yearn to be associated with Caucasians, even if such involves buying favors. Roberts and Rizzo (2021) argue that many people on Earth associate power with string-pulling and influence. The situation is actually in the U.S., where many minorities unwarrantedly esteem Whites by submitting to them to get positive discrimination. The mistaken thinking makes many Whites assume control, even when they do not have it. The outcome of such a psychological problem is the continued oppression of persons of color by Whites who relate their race to power. The authors maintain that hierarchy’s influence on the issue of American racism is hard to notice without applying psychological knowledge. However, the scholars complain that few psychologists worldwide manage to see the issue of bias as a real danger to humanity. Such an aspect leads many psychologists, including those living in the U.S., to assume the social problem that continues to disintegrate the American society.

The article’s authors also have a problem with how the media grants minority group members ‘derogative’ roles while presenting Whites as superior people. Roberts and Rizzo (2021) argue that the matter directly influences and normalizes racial thoughts across all American populations. Power also seems to hold a significant part in legalizing racism in the U.S., where Roberts and Rizzo describe Trump’s regime as one of the worst on matters of bigotry promotion. Leaders like Donald Trump directly campaign to enact laws that punish racial minorities while promoting Whites’ supremacy, thus worsening racial issues in America.

Reading the article reminds me of one of the many intelligent and moving accounts made by the late Dr. King Jr. about America’s need to act on racism. Roberts and Rizzo’s (2021) work challenges the common notion that time holds the answer to pressing social issues. Many people in the U.S. dream of a nation full of fairness someday to come. The folks’ mentality is that the agents of xenophobia and other social ills will die and create a room for a just society. Nonetheless, the group’s attitude is highly mistaken based on Roberts and Rizzo account. According to the two psychologists, the time myth holds no solution to the many problems people of color experience in America. That is because the American social ill culprits tend to live beyond their time by planning mechanisms and strategies that will last forever.

Teaching racism to young children is one tactic that promotes segregation in the U.S. Roberts and Rizzo (2021) maintain that kids start learning racialism at an early age through some well-structured and socially supported hidden strategies. Reading census information reporting the number of persons living in the U.S. on the grounds of race, for example, is enough to teach minors that racism is okay. Moreover, rearing young White children in neighborhoods where they do not interact with children of the other races and giving them programmed messages about their supremacy that directly promotes discrimination. The article shows the essence of utilizing knowledge to counter all these social vices for the world, especially America, to know real peace.

All the challenges reported by the article have a solution through psychology. However, Roberts and Rizzo (2021) noted that the utilization of the discipline to study and understand racism in the U.S. and around the world is highly limited. The article presents nothing but the truth about the underlying force that carries xenophobia forward, making the social vice worse every new day. Providing clear examples under each covered racial factor allows the public to relate easily with the work and get the authors’ sense. Arguably, articles like Roberts and Rizzo (2021) are what the world requires to get out of slumberland and work together to make the world a fair place to all humans.


Roberts, S. O. & Rizzo, M. T. (2021). The psychology of American racism. American Psychological Association, 76, (3), 475-487.

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