Measuring the pros and cons of what it means to be a Black man: Development and validation of the Black Men’s Experiences Scale (BMES)

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Psychology of Men & Masculinity

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Although extensive research has documented that Black people in the United States frequently experience social discrimination, most of this research aggregates these experiences primarily or exclusively by race. Consequently, empirical gaps exist about the psychosocial costs and benefits of Black men’s experiences at the intersection of race and gender. Informed by intersectionality, a theoretical framework that highlights how multiple social identities intersect to reflect interlocking social–structural inequality, this study addresses these gaps with the qualitative development and quantitative testing of the Black Men’s Experiences Scale (BMES). The BMES assesses Black men’s negative experiences with overt discrimination and microaggressions, as well their positive evaluations of what it means to be Black men. First, we conducted focus groups and individual interviews with Black men to develop the BMES. Next, we tested the BMES with 578 predominantly low-income urban Black men between the ages of 18 and 44. Exploratory factor analysis suggested a 12-item, 3-factor solution that explained 63.7% of the variance. We labeled the subscales Overt Discrimination, Microaggressions, and Positives: Black Men. Confirmatory factor analysis supported the 3-factor solution. As hypothesized, the BMES’s subscales correlated with measures of racial discrimination, depression, resilience, and social class at the neighborhood level. Preliminary evidence suggests that the BMES is a reliable and valid measure of Black men’s experiences at the intersection of race and gender.