Using Art Therapy to Examine the Impact of Everyday Racial Discrimination (ERD) on African American Males

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Butler, Monica
Master of Arts in Art Therapy
The aim of this pilot study was to identify Everyday Racial Discrimination themes in a sample of 14 African American male adults who were 18 years of age and older. The lack of literature regarding the African American male population in art therapy is limited despite efforts made to service this population within the field. The gap in literature might be due to various obstacles that some African American males encounter. Using qualitative methodologies, volunteer participants were first prescreened by a questionnaire asking who, what, where and how long ago they were racially profiled. Following this, participants completed a modified Transformational Self-Portrait art directive, along with a post screening questionnaire, to gauge how participants felt upon completing the art directive, their comfort level with materials, and to identify who the “others” were that saw them. The information was compared and evaluated based on similarities in order to identify common themes from the data. Results indicated that African American males that experience Everyday Racial Discrimination have similar experiences in relation to eight overarching themes: (1) Protection, (2) body/self-images, (3) facial feature perception, (4) differences in presentation, (5) written communication, (6) symbolism, (7) foundational objects, and (8) multitasking. These findings suggest that constant exposure to Everyday Racial Discrimination has a significant impact on African American males. This study also introduced information that was pertinent for this population to better serve and support African American males within the art therapy field.