Walker Tisdale III


Analyzing the Cascading Impact of Racism on the Mental Health of African American Adults


African Americans have a long, distinctive, and traumatic collective history in the United States for being targets of racial aggression, racial violence, denial of access to services, equitable treatment under the law, and intimidation. Racial injustices towards African Americans are well documented in the literature and the modern media in the United States. The cost of racism extends beyond the marginalized population and yet there remains no successful prevention effort to halt racist behavior. To better understand the complex and compounded impact of racism there must a deeper understanding of how racism harms African Americans and impacts our larger institutions and systems. The harm of the social problem cannot be overstated in the 21st century. Researchers have not identified a universal rationale for racist behaviors. There is no universally accepted intervention to arrest racism in its many forms. And even as the United States becomes more racially and ethnically diverse – racial animus continues. The residual impact of racism contributes to health and mental health disparities, distrust across racial groups, undermines the workforce, and even has a financial impact on the economy. A careful review of the existing literature yielded evidence of a cascading negative impact of racism toward African American adults. Therefore, the guiding question for this systematic literature review was β€˜To what extent does racism impact the mental health of African American adults?’ This capstone highlights the pervasive nature of racism does indeed cascade from individuals to families, and from families to communities, including impacting the larger society.


Walker Tisdale III currently serves as a Public Health Analyst within the Office of Behavioral Health Equity in the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). He holds both a Master of Public Health degree from Hunter College and a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Chicago. In addition to being a candidate for the Doctor of Social Work degree at the University of Kentucky, with a concentration in Administrative Leadership, Mr. Tisdale is also completing the first year of a second doctoral program from the University of Maryland – Baltimore in Health Professions Education. And just last month he was invited to present at the White House on ‘Supporting African American Males Living with Behavioral Health Challenges.’

Mr. Tisdale has published articles related to suicide prevention in local newspapers, federal government publications, and aims to publish his Capstone after graduation. His research interest include suicide prevention and older adults, the behavioral health workforce, health equity, and mental health capacity building.

Mr. Tisdale is proud to present his capstone, Analyzing the Cascading Impact of Racism on the Mental Health of African American Adults. Mr. Tisdale hopes this scholarly contribution will build upon existing knowledge and inspire additional research until a universally adopted intervention for exposure to racism becomes widely available.

He is exceptionally proud to be the first in his immediate family to complete a doctoral degree. He is supported in his academic goals by his mother, Florastine (pronounced: Flora-steen) Tisdale, brother Toriano (pronounced: Toree-ano) Tisdale and heavenly father, Walker Tisdale, Jr.