Why discrimination is a health problem

Editor’s note: Recent NPR story (May 1, 2021) Explains expert insights into the effects of discrimination on the health of black people, regardless of income and educational status. Our own RWJF trustee Dr. David Williams was featured in NPR’s story.

Dr. Williams shared a powerful message in the culture of health blog culture originally published in October 201 that we are re-sharing. In this post, he emphasizes the need for all of us to work together to make America a healthier place for all.

One year after graduating from Yale University Clyde MurphyA well-known civil rights lawyer – died of a blood clot in his lungs. Soon after, his African-American classmates Ron Norwood and Jeff Palmer all succumbed to cancer.

In fact, more than 10 percent of African-Americans in the Yale class died in 1970. The death rate is three times higher than that of their white classmates.

That’s amazing.

But it is true: African-Americans are sick and die faster than whites in America. The leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease, and middle-aged black men and women have a mortality rate that is twice that of their white counterparts. Elevated mortality rates are also evident for cancer, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease, maternal mortality – the list goes on and on.. In fact, every minute, a black man dies prematurely. That’s more than 200 black people a day who wouldn’t die if blacks and whites had equal health.

And, as the Yale example shows, a high level of education – one that can afford to live in high-income and health villages and access to high-quality health care – cannot save African-Americans from high inequality. Mortality rate

So what’s behind it?

A larger and growing body of research shows that the day-to-day experiences of African-Americans create physical responses that lead to premature aging (meaning that individuals are biologically larger than their period). Or, as described in American behavioral scientist“Experiences of racial discrimination are an important type of psychological stress that can lead to adverse changes in health status and habits that increase health risks.”

Stress is a normal part of life, but when stress is a constant, daily experience, it exceeds our capacity to cope and the physical system designed to handle it fails. This results in an increased incidence of physical reactions, high blood pressure, diabetes, or other health problems.

The first thing we need to do is that the daily racial discrimination embedded in our culture is sickening and killing African-Americans, and a new commitment to work together to make America a healthier place for all.

The first data from an unprecedented survey of 45,453 African-Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, Indigenous, and LGBTQ adults from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, NPR, and RWJF 3, explores the experience with discrimination.. Each of the demographic groups surveyed felt that discrimination against their own race or ethnic group existed in the United States today. This included 78 percent of Latinos, 75 percent of Native Americans, 1 percent of Asian Americans, and 55 percent of non-Hispanic blondes. However, 2% of African-Americans surveyed are more likely to agree.

Among African-American respondents when asked about their own personal experiences:

  • 2% say they have personally experienced racial discrimination when visiting a doctor or health clinic; 22% refuse to seek medical care without worrying about discrimination;
  • 0% say they or a family member has been improperly stopped or treated by the police; 1% have stopped calling the police when necessary to avoid possible discrimination;
  • 45% say they have been discriminated against for renting or buying a home;
  • 2% say they keep away from everyday activities such as using a car or attending social events.

It’s not just ignoring the doctor who can push you towards poor health. Failure to call the police in an emergency can endanger safety and security. Safe and stable housing One of the most basic requirements for good health. And interacting with others can have far-reaching consequences Social isolation, Which is also associated with poor health.

The term discrimination often refers to historical rights such as denial of the right to vote, hate crimes or discriminatory practices in housing and criminal justice. But not all discrimination is conscious, intentional or personal. It is often made up of institutional policies and practices such as collateral, zoning or school fundraising practices – which affect where you live, the quality of education you receive or access to public transport or good employment – all linked. Health

But while discrimination is part of your day-to-day criteria, even an Ivy League education can’t completely protect you from its effects.

So what do we do about it? Although there are examples Programs and policies aimed at increasing health equity, There is really no simple answer. But the first thing we need to do is that the daily racial discrimination embedded in our culture is sickening and killing African-Americans, and a new commitment to work together to make America a healthier place for all.

I hope to see my youngest daughter graduate from college in 2020. I look forward to that day. But behind this, I hope that he and all his African-American classmates will live healthier and longer lives than those who graduated from the Yale class of 1, 0.

Learn more about Harvard survey searches by accessing them On demand recording A forum that explores election results and their implications for a healthier, more equitable, and equitable society.

About the author

David R. Williams Florence and Laura Norman are professors of public health at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and professors of African and African-American studies at Harvard University. Dr. Williams is an internationally recognized social scientist focused on social effects on health.

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