Northwestern Events Calendar


Prof. Vanessa Volpe: Psychology Colloquium Series, "To Be Young, Online, and Black: Racism, Liberation, and Health in Online Environments"

When: Friday, April 5, 2024
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM CT

Where: Swift Hall, 107, 2029 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Meredith Hawley  

Group: Department of Psychology

Category: Academic


The online context provides challenges and opportunities for Black young adults' oppression, liberation, and subsequent health. Yet a majority of psychological research has emphasized deficit-based narratives of online activity, examining outcomes such as internet addiction, body image concerns, and shorter attention spans. In this talk, I will first introduce my model of structural online racism to describe both the ways that features of online environments themselves pose risks to Black young adult health and how Black young adults actively innovate and resist in the face of these risks. Next, I will present results from my experimental, correlational, and mixed-methods empirical studies that test this model and incorporate intersectionality. Topics will include mechanisms of exposure to vicarious online oppression and health that can be targeted in interventions, Black-centered online social support, and acts of resistance to online oppression via racial identity, critical media literacy, and content creation and curation. Finally, I will conclude with recommendations for how to understand and study internet and technology environments from a psychological perspective that prioritizes and centers the liberation and equitable health of Black young adults. 

Dr. Vanessa Volpe (North Carolina State University) is an applied developmental health psychologist with a focus on health equity. Broadly, she studies the ways that racism and other intersectional forms of oppression impact the stress-related health outcomes of Black people from across the African diaspora in the United States. She has a particular focus on online, technological, and structural racism contexts and processes during late adolescence and young adulthood.

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