Ethiopian emerging adult immigrants in Israel: Coping with discrimination and racism

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Experiences of discrimination and racism and individual coping strategies were examined among 22 emerging adult Ethiopian immigrants in Israel. In-depth interviews explored the way they perceive, understand, respond to, and cope with experiences of discrimination. Qualitative analysis identified an initial contrast between those interviewees who refuted the existence of personal and/or general experiences of racism and those who felt it acutely. Further analysis identified two strategies among those who refuted the existence of racism: a racism-free group who repudiated racism in general and a proactive strategy in which the young person felt that their own individual behavior prevented racism. Two strategies were identified among those who described frequent, painful racist experiences: (a) fighting back, involving confronting or talking back to the perpetrator, and (b) avoidance, choosing not to react openly to the situation. The article describes the different strategies together with the experience embodied in each of them in relation to integration in Israel and feelings of belonging to Israeli society. The results cast a spot light on the experience of discrimination and the ways of coping with it and suggest that active coping mechanisms are connected to a more positive internal feeling and to stronger feelings of belonging and integration, in particular when the strategy is based on an awareness of discrimination (as opposed to ignoring it).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-75
Number of pages27
JournalYouth and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research and/or authorship of this article: This research was made possible through a grant given by the Minerva Centre for Human Rights, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.


  • coping strategies
  • discrimination
  • emerging adults
  • racism


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