Systemic Racism and Implicit Bias Influencing US School Counseling

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International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling


Empirical research establishes systemic racism and implicit bias disproportionately impact academic achievement of Black students. Black students are disadvantaged by negative perceptions, harsher punishments, and reduced opportunities compared to White peers. We utilize conversation categories of course selection, college attendance, occupational choice, and personal problems to illustrate impacts of systemic racism and implicit bias in academic conversations with school counselors. We conducted a covariate analysis of data from 14,528 Black and White students from 944 US schools while controlling for social class, mathematical achievement, and problem behavior. White students engaged in more academic conversations with school counselors when controlling for social class and problem behavior but were fully mediated by mathematics performance. Black students were unseen and underserved unless they were exceptional in social class, academic achievement, or behavioral referrals. Through academic conversations with school counselors, we demonstrate subtleties of systemic racism and implicit bias embedded in educational systems.