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ABSTRACT. This paper attempts to further understand the lived experiences of racial oppression by bringing together personal testimonies, resources from phenomenology, and empirical work on stereotype threat. Integrating these three areas provides a psychological, existential, physiological, and embodied understanding of the fundamental harm of racial oppression. My aim is to show that the harm of existing as racially oppressed is not just psychological or physiological. That is, racial oppression is not only harmful with regards to the immediate and lasting effects of the compiled stresses that result from continually being made aware of one’s bodily existence as “other” in a predominantly and normatively white world. In addition, racially oppressed people also often lose a sense of themselves, become alienated from themselves, and come to understand themselves vis-à-vis the oppressor. Combining contextualized analyses of the psychological, existential, physiological, and embodied dimensions of oppression, I argue that existing as racially oppressed in a white supremacist society also changes the ontological structure of one’s being-in-the-world. pp. 24–44

Keywords: phenomenology; oppression; stereotype threat; Martin Heidegger

LAUREN FREEMAN
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University of Louisville

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