Riana Elyse Anderson

Riana Elyse Anderson
Location: Detroit, Michigan Cohort Start Year: 2016 Population Served: Urban Communities
Assistant Professor
University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education

Repeated exposure to instances of racism and discrimination can result in psychological problems, lower educational attainment, and increased cardiovascular disease, even if it is through just witnessing these events. Research has shown that race-based traumatic stress is common among Black people following negative in-person and witnessed discriminatory racial encounters. Given the recent heightened national awareness of police brutality, understanding how adults can support and protect youth from the effects of past, current and future instances of racism and discrimination is important. Dr. Anderson developed the Engaging, Managing, and Bonding through Race (EMBRace) program to address these issues and improve Black family wellbeing. EMBRace is a seven-week family program that brings parents and their children together for conversations on race, cultural pride, discrimination and stress management in an effort to reduce parent and adolescent racial stress, promote bonding for families, and improve adolescent psychological well-being and academic engagement. EMBRace is among the first programs to use culturally-specific theories and evidence-based practices to address discriminatory racial encounters and reduce racial stress and trauma. Families meet with program staff once a week for 90 minutes. We use relaxation, journaling, debating, role-playing and media in the program to facilitate conversations on race between parents and their children. EMBRace is currently focusing on families in Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

Riana Elyse Anderson is a clinical and community psychologist who investigates how protective familial mechanisms like racial socialization operate in the face of risks linked to discrimination. Riana is the developer and director of the Engaging, Managing, and Bonding through Race (EMBRace) program and loves to translate her work for a variety of audiences, particularly those whom she serves in the community via blogs, video, and literary articles.

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