The Impact of Internalized Racial Oppression in the Lives of Nine American Men of Mexican Ancestry




Varela, Lucio

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



A critical race theory world view was used to approach this research. In order to explore the social-psychological consequences of believing the racism lie this study documents and describes the oppression that racism generated on a segment of the population that was born, raised and educated and has worked, lived and died in this part of the world prior to and after it became part of the United States. The purpose of this study is to contribute to the understanding of how internalized racial oppression, a product of habitus and shame, happens and evolves in the life experiences of nine American men of Mexican ancestry. This study addresses the questions: (1) what acts of racial oppression did the nine men describe experiencing? (2) What did the men describe feeling from the acts of oppression they experienced? And (3) what did the men describe as the impact of internalizing racial oppression in their lives? In order to document and describe this social-psychological phenomenon in the American population of Mexican ancestry a collaborative inquiry model was used to explore the life histories of the nine mature American men of Mexican ancestry who collaborated with this research. This methodology generated reflective synergy through the use of iterative cycles on what was being presented by each one of us to all of us. This methodology enabled us, as a traditionally oppressed population in our country, to expose and explore the racism lie experiences we hold in our consciousness. We were able to critically reflect on the shared information in a safe space. It also allowed us to create new knowledge, understanding and language about an experience that is not generally represented in the dominant or wider population. This theoretical perspective was informed through the lenses of critical race, habitus and shame theories. The human development stages and the social settings we experienced throughout our lives were impacted by the habitus we traversed which left both positive and negative psychological imprints in our beliefs about ourselves and the world surrounding us. A habitus charged with social/cultural racial interactive scripts that induce powerlessness and shame has a negative psychological impact on the individual and targeted population. It is the replication of the powerlessness and shame inducing behaviors externalized socially which triggers the psychological internalization processes in the individual who then internalizes the racial oppression. This oppression permeates the individual’s consciousness; affixes itself as a negative belief about the self or reinforces an already established negative untrue belief about the self; and reveals itself in the individual’s interpersonal behaviors adding to the array of racial oppressive forces already at work to socially subdue and psychologically subjugate the individual. The internalized racial oppression is replicated and infused into the habitus we traverse in our daily lives which contribute and add to the powerlessness and shame inducing racist social-cultural scripts which we accept and support because we think they are true. By believing true these devastating racist social-cultural false scripts, we too contribute to our own oppression and the oppression of others like us because we have internalized self-contempt. The findings of this study contain valuable information for Americans of Mexican ancestry and other minority populations. It will help us experience power and wholeness that comes from the truth, forgiveness and love in our individual and collective consciousness allowing for the possibility of self-liberation and self-determination. Implications of these findings are also provided for the habitus holding racist social-cultural interactive scripts that induce powerlessness and shame expressed through repetitive individual behaviors which are externalized in the social settings we traverse in our daily lives.



Racism, Internalized racial oppression, Shame, Habitus, Social-psychology


Varela, L. (2014). <i>The impact of internalized racial oppression in the lives of nine American men of Mexican ancestry</i> (Unpublished dissertation). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


Rights Holder

Rights License

Rights URI