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Reducing microaggressions and promoting interracial connection: The racial harmony workshop (Pages 153-161)

Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science (JCBS)

Volume 16, April 2020, Pages 153-161


Monnica T. Williams, Jonathan W. Kanter, Adriana Peña, Terence H.W. Ching, Linda Oshin


Research has demonstrated a connection between microaggressions and decreased mental health across racial and ethnic groups. Microaggressions on college campuses can have a negative impact on students of color, which has led to a push for more microaggression-focused diversity trainings on college campuses. However, no training thus far has demonstrated efficacy in reducing participants’ propensity to commit microaggressions. We reported an intervention, the Racial Harmony Workshop (RHW), to reduce racial biases and microaggressions and promote interracial connection among college students. The RHW was designed to increase connectedness across racial groups, using principles and techniques from Functional Analytic Psychotherapy (FAP) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). The study was conducted with Black and White undergraduate students (N = 44) randomly assigned to an active control group or the RHW. Participants were given pre-test, post-test, and follow-up batteries to assess inter-group feelings and racial attitudes. Results indicated positive benefits for both Black and White participants, including improved mood and increased positive feelings towards Black people for the White students, as well as increased ethnic identity for the Black students. White students in both conditions showed a decreased likelihood of committing microaggressions, and those in the RHW condition also showed a decreased likelihood of having microaggressive thoughts and increased gains over time. Overall, the results suggest there are several benefits to the RHW, and further research is warranted to build upon these findings.

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