The Effects of Racism on the Health of African Americans

Topics: African American, United States, Health care Pages: 10 (3352 words) Published: August 24, 2013
The Effects of Racism on the Health of African Americans

Abstract
Studies now show that racism plays a significant role in the development of health and mental issues. Heath effects of racism range from boosting risk of depression, anxiety and anger. These are all factors that can lead to heart disease and other health related issues. Despite the general agreement that racism is wrong there is little evidence that programs and incentives are actually having much affect decreasing its devastating results. In addition, the lack of health care escalates the problem as many minorities are not properly covered in relation to Caucasians. Research also shows that the economic discrepancies that minorities face add to an already high level of stress related concerns. Economic stress, work load, unemployment are a few of the issues that minorities face which increase the risk of health problems.

The Effects of Racism on the Health of Minorities
In the past fifteen years there has been a great deal of research done on the effects of racism on health of African American and other minorities in the United States. In fact, well over a hundred studies have been published noting the harmful effects of discrimination on the health of African American men, women, and children. Unfortunately, results have provided us with disturbing data. The findings show that not only does racism have a direct effect on an individual’s physical health but also mental health as well. In addition, studies reveal several disturbing reasons one of them being inferior health care for minorities. Also, various studies link heath and mental problems in several forms such as stress leading to heart disease, cardiovascular problems and issues stemming from high blood pressure. Regardless of the health or mental problem, studies show that there is a direct link between racism facing African Americans in the United States and health and mental issues.

African Americans make up over twelve percent of the population of the United States yet this race has a significantly higher mortality rate that any other group. Based on their findings regarding life expectancy, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention insists that on average the Caucasian population in the United States life expectancy exceeds that of the African American population by almost five and a half years. Moreover, the same source states that deaths due to heart disease were 31% higher in black American than their white counterparts (CDC, 2005).

One particularly disturbing trend that a great deal of research reveals is that African American face a higher risk of dying from heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure than any other racial group in the United States. This fact seems to transcend economic status as more affluent black Americans are just as much at risk. The question of course is why?

Past studies have focused on the racial discrepancy in health evolving out of the omnipresent social and institutional forces. These studies have connected higher rates of death and disease in the African American population to social injustices as segregation, low economic status, poverty, unemployment, targeted marketing of alcohol and cigarettes, and other inequities. Research clearly connects these issues with health issues facing the African American community.

However, a new focus has emerged. One of the biggest culprits is stress. Studies show that constant exposure to racism creates a level of stress that which makes African Americans vulnerable to health problems such as heart disease, and hypertension. According to an early study by Sherman James of Duke University, people who cope with overwhelming stress on a regular basis by exerting “prodigious physical and mental effort” open themselves up to potentially devastating health issues. James’ study suggests that...

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