As Black History Month is Celebrated, Remember that Racism not only impacts Mental Health but also Physical Health!
Black History Month, or National African American History Month, is celebrated annually to recongize the achievements by black Americans and the role African Americans have played in U.S. history. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. As we wrap up the celebration of this year’s black history month, we thought we should bring our attention to an issue “Racism,” which stills subtlely impacts certain people of color in the United States and the health implications of not adequately addressing and curbing the resultant negative emotions.
Racism is not just a connotation that we read and hear about in the news, but has become a form of reality that we see in daily living especially with the recent police brutality and mistreatment of certain races in the United States. It also has far reaching ramifications on our physiological health that it also affects the physical growth of our children in the next generation. According to a report by Zaneta Thayer, Assistant Professor at University of Colorado as published in New Republic, the victim of racial discrimination not only suffer mental and emotional abuses, but it can affect their physical health through the stress hormone called Cortisol.
In this report, it was explained that African Americans often have elevated stress hormonal level in the evening after returning back from work. The study was also corroborated with the Hispanic ethnic group. This in return affects their immune system to fight infections. It also affects their reproductive function in the evening. Cortisol and other hormones are crucial in maintaining general immunity, reproductive and cardiovascular health and our hormonal equilibrium can be thrown into disarray, resulting to multiple adverse health effects.
In another study on Arabs after the 9/11 attack, the researchers found that children born to California women with Arab sounding name that had to bear the brunt of racial discrimination in the year after September 11, had lower body weight. The author correlated this finding to an increase in racial discrimination experienced among these women following the unfortunate incident.
Understanding the relationship between discrimination experiences and poor health is an important first step towards bringing additional awareness to this issue.
The study was reported in The New Republic Magazine on 28th of January.