Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy

Academic Discipline

Community Psychology

First Advisor

Tiffeny Jimenez

Second Advisor

Bradley Olson

Third Advisor

Erica Mingo


“Uncovering roots of systemic oppression within law enforcement: A qualitative study exploring why police officers discriminate against the Black community.” Rationale for this study is to uncover behavior and psychological reasons to uncover why police discriminate and oppress the Black community with little consequences for their actions. The dominant explanation for this trend uncovers previous research addressing oppression and the structure of institutions such as law enforcement that have relied heavily on past policies and tactics protecting an institution in the United States that has rarely been challenged. Recent riots and civil unrest against law enforcement institutions and dominant laws in society have prompted new research into the nature and behavior of policing in Black communities. Data used in this research project comes from personal accounts of police officer witnessing brutality and oppression in the Black communities they patrol. Former and current police officers have given first-hand accounts and personal experiences of systemic oppression that range from their childhood to the present day.

Contrary to what has often been assumed, modernity is in full force in a nation that has been founded on White supremacy and institutional dehumanization of the American Black race. My findings indicate that the rise of oppression suggests that it is usually the oppressed who must organize to force large-scale changes in systems of oppression. This means that all Americans who support racial justice and equality must organize aggressively and effectively to bring change in White racist thinking and practice, including change in the institutionalized feature of U.S. racism. This is by no means an easy task, for the systemic reality of racism and oppression means that it is deeply entrenched in society. Attacking it will take a huge effort by many people of all backgrounds.