Break out the India Irie “Brown Skin.”  New research shows that for Black people, embracing your racial identity can make you happier overall.

These are the findings from researchers at Michigan State University who were looking at racial identity and the role it plays in our everyday emotions. For the study, psychologists surveyed black adults in Michigan, examining their thoughts on community, discrimination and other topics. The results from the study suggested that the more the participants identified with being black or said that being black was an important part of who they are – the more happy they were with life as a whole.

While other studies have found connections between racial identity and self-esteem, the MSU study is the first to connect racial identity to happiness.

One of the more intriguing aspects of the study is buried in the researcher’s discussion of the report is that there among Black people, there are stark gender differences in the findings.  When measuring overall happiness, the study looked at the respondent’s “sense of belongingness” to judge what aspect of racial identity got them to happy.  For women the value of “belongingness” in reaching what they considered happy was much elevated when compared to men who weighed it less.  The researchers concluded that:

women are more relationship focused…thus, a sense of belonging may affect women’s life satisfaction more than men’s.

This thought is particularly telling of women of color.  Although there may be many social circles we feel a part of, we value each other immensely.  For black women, the feeling of belongingness we feel when we are together can often be the thing that keeps us going. Perhaps seeing that in black and while just confirms something we’ve known all along.  While embracing our race can help us find high levels of satisfaction, we cannot reach happiness without embracing each other.

Gives a greater meaning to the idea of ‘sisterly love.’


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  • S.

    whoo hoo

  • I love this article. Female friendsips are the best!!!!

    • Wendy

      I agree! I only found that out after high school. College was great and now being an adult and the female cattiness calmed down a bit, I truly value a female friendship much more. It’s awesome! :)

  • lynette

    Great article! I love all my sistahs and sawrahhhs!!!

  • TheBrokenMask

    While this article is interesting I can’t help getting upset (being that I’m a writer) over the use of the word “belongingness.” I hate to come across as pretentious but that isn’t a word. While I’m a writer I’m also a critic, and as such I must say that the -ness suffix added to belonging felt very unnatural to read. It’s made egregious by the fact that “belonging” was used properly when quoting the study. On another note I felt this article isn’t that informative. This could be do to the fact that I’m not familiar with the purpose of this site, having clicked this article’s link when one of my friends shared it on facebook, but I would have liked to know what other conclusions this study profited. Of course you included a link to the study so arguably that critique is invalid, but I can’t help feeling this article is missing some meat.