Martin Luther King, Jr. (1968), among others, have historically called upon social scientists to understand how developing knowledge about the nature of oppression can move individuals towards abolishing it. As a social psychologist in training, Aerielle is motivated to raise awareness of the deeper causes that perpetuate inequality and oppression and urges that this knowledge is essential today. Aerielle investigates how the awareness of historically-rooted structural inequality influences how individuals perceive, cope, and respond to information about present-day inequality.
Her empirical and theoretical work examines the downstream consequences of critical historical knowledge of injustice on perceptions of present-day inequality and how experiences of inequality shape social justice and public health outcomes, including:
the tendency for Black Americans to be more knowledgeable of the similarities between past and present forms of racial inequality compared to White Americans;
the way anger and perceived efficacy can be used to explain Black Americans’ motivation to act against racial inequality; and
how deficits in knowledge and other social resources, as well as experiences of race-based stigma, are associated with poor health among Blacks, particularly as it relates to HIV.
By taking an interdisciplinary and mixed methods approach, her goal is to shed light on how information about inequality and injustice can be harnessed towards empowering members of stigmatized and disadvantaged groups and motivate and prompt action towards change among advantaged groups.