Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences

Degree Program

Public Health Sciences with a specialization in Health Promotion, PhD

Committee Chair

Wendel, Monica

Committee Member

Pryor, Brandy

Committee Member

Nation, Maury

Committee Member

Speer, Paul

Author's Keywords

white supremacy; racism; colorblind racial attitudes; youth; high school; race consciousness


We are living in compounded states of upheaval. Violence and exemption from it across socioecological levels have shaped how humans survive, thrive, and die. While different violence typologies exist, the U.S., prioritizes interpersonal violence as its primary target of intervention, often through structural means that foster and reinforce interpersonal violence. The omission of structural and cultural agents and outcomes of violence allows perpetrators to infiltrate and reproduce savage, dehumanizing ideologies in perpetuity. Instead of sustaining societal pillars that oppress and destroy, we must fertilize public health research, practice, and sociopolitical activism with pillars that both inform and activate liberatory consciousness early in the human development trajectory. This quantitative cross-sectional study employed multiple regression models to analyze attitudes that humans use to catalyze racism at individual, interpersonal, institutional, systemic, and structural levels. Specifically, it used the Colorblind Racial Attitudes Scale (CoBRAS) to examine racial ideology of high school students in relation to their acknowledgement of racism as an important problem and racial history as an important academic topic. These questions are essential metrics of the critical consciousness needed to dismantle racism and findings give insight regarding potential interventions and future research needs. Within each regression model, between 546 and 548 students were used as a sample. Among the respondents, there was overwhelming general agreement about racism being both an important problem and the necessity of racial history curriculum in public schools. Regression models testing extreme race consciousness and extreme colorblindness yielded counterintuitive findings that indicate the potential need for racial literacy and critical consciousness education, particularly among populations who (1) identified as female and (2) were categorized as Black. As statistical techniques were applied to the model, small sample sizes emerged for some covariates which had the potential to inflate findings of significant value; consequently, interpretations must be made with caution and sensitivity. Racism at all levels violates human rights and moreover, sustain health inequities. Since 2020, public health has been active in declaring racism a public health crisis. As such, the field needs measurement and intervention plans at all levels. This study begins to inform vested parties on what students think about racial issues and how their attitudes interface with political agendas that have weaponized aspects of racial history against true liberation education.