Racism and the Physical and Mental Health Status of African-Americans: A 13-Year National Panel Study

Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48106-1248, USA.
Ethnicity & disease (Impact Factor: 1). 12/1996; 6(1-2):132-47.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This paper examined the relationships between the experiences and perceptions of racism and the physical and mental health status of African Americans. The study was based upon thirteen year (1979 to 1992), four wave, national panel data (n = 623) from the National Survey of Black Americans. Personal experiences of racism were found to have both adverse and salubrious immediate and cumulative effects on the physical and mental well-being of African Americans. In 1979-80, reports of poor treatment due to race were inversely related to subjective well-being and positively associated with the number of reported physical health problems. Reports of negative racial encounters over the 13-year period were weakly predictive of poor subjective well-being in 1992. A more general measure of racial beliefs, perceiving that whites want to keep blacks down, was found to be related to poorer physical health in 1979-80, better physical health in 1992, and predicted increased psychological distress, as well as, lower levels of subjective well-being in 1992. In conclusion, the authors suggested future research on possible factors contributing to the relationship between racism and health status among African Americans.

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    • "Both black males and females experience racial discrimination (e.g. Jackson et al., 1996). Moreover, although research on offending among African American females is relatively sparse (e.g. "
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    ABSTRACT: Evidence is accumulating that interpersonal racial discrimination is criminogenic and ethnic-racial socialization (ERS) practices provide resilience. This research, however, has largely focused on black males. We address this gap by exploring these risk and resilience processes among black females. Drawing on Simons and Burt’s social schematic theory and research on adaptive cultural practices in African American families, this study investigates how interpersonal racial discrimination increases the risks of crime among females and whether familial ERS provides resilience. After focusing on females, we also compare the findings among females to those for males to shed light on gender differences. We examine these questions using panel data from the Family and Community Health Study, a survey of black families first surveyed in 1999 and at roughly two-year intervals thereafter. Consistent with prior work, we find a strong effect of racial discrimination on an increase in crime, with the bulk of this effect being mediated by the criminogenic knowledge structure. Although one of the two forms of ERS examined—cultural socialization—did not reduce the criminogenic effects of racial discrimination, preparation for bias exerted a strong protective effect. Comparing the findings to that for males revealed that preparation for bias attenuated the criminogenic effects of racial discrimination for both males and females, but it did so in gendered ways. This study fills a gap in our understanding of the criminogenic effects of discrimination among black females, supporting a social schematic theory’s explanation of the effects of racial discrimination on crime. In addition, findings highlight protective cultural practices in African American families, especially preparation for bias.
    Justice Quarterly 04/2015; 32(3):532-570. DOI:10.1080/07418825.2013.781205 · 1.63 Impact Factor
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    • "Structural social workers call for critical consciousness-raising, which seeks to help clients understand how and in what ways they have internalized oppression and been impacted by structural oppression. Oppression, in its many forms and manifestations (e.g., racism, discrimination), has been identified as a chronic stressor that can greatly compromise psychological and physical health wellbeing (Brown-Reid & Harrell, 2002; Clark, Anderson, Clark, & Williams, 1999; Jackson et al., 1996) contributing to psychological distress, crime, substance use, and related health risk behaviors (Boyd-Franklin, 1993; Franklin, Boyd-Franklin, & Kelly, 2006; Franklin, 2004). These unique experiences with oppression-related stress and its consequences impact the growing disparity in health. "
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    ABSTRACT: Theoretical approaches traditionally applied in mental health and criminal justice interventions fail to address the historical and structural context that partially explains health disparities. Community Wise was developed to address this gap. It is a 12 week group intervention informed by Critical Consciousness Theory and designed to prevent substance abuse, related health risk behaviors, psychological distress, and reoffending among individuals with a history of incarceration and substance abuse. This paper reports findings from the first implementation and pilot evaluation of Community Wise in two community-based organizations. This pre–posttest evaluation pilot-tested Community Wise and used findings to improve the intervention. Twenty-six participants completed a phone and clinical screening, baseline, 6- and 12-week follow-ups, and a focus group at the end of the intervention. Measures assessed participants' demographic information, psychological distress, substance use, criminal offending, HIV risk behaviors, community cohesion, community support, civic engagement, critical consciousness, ethnic identification, group cohesion, client satisfaction, and acquired treatment skills. Research methods were found to be feasible and useful in assessing the intervention. Results indicated that while Community Wise is a promising intervention, several changes need to be made in order to enhance the intervention. Community Wise is a new approach where oppressed individuals join in critical dialogue, tap into existing community resources, and devise, implement and evaluate their own community solutions to structural barriers.
    International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 09/2014; 37(5). DOI:10.1016/j.ijlp.2014.02.023 · 1.19 Impact Factor
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    • "Disproportionate exposure to race-related stress makes a significant negative contribution to mental health functioning among Blacks living in the US. Indeed, extant literature demonstrates a cross-sectional relationship between perceived discrimination and depression (e.g., Brown et al., 2000; Landrine and Klonoff, 1996; Gaylord-Harden and Cunningham, 2009; Hammond, 2012; Hudson et al., 2012), anxiety (e.g., Soto et al., 2011), and general psychological distress (e.g., Sellers et al., 2003; Chae et al., 2011; Krieger et al., 2011; Pieterse et al., 2012), as well as a prospective relationship between discrimination and depression (Jackson et al., 1996). The majority of these studies focus on everyday discriminatory acts such as being treated with less courtesy and respect, and major events such as being unfairly fired or denied employment. "
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    ABSTRACT: Everyday discrimination contributes negatively to depressive symptomatology among Blacks in the US and being arrested could add to this depression. Using data from the National Survey on American Life, the present study determined the association between an arrest history and major depressive disorder (MDD), while accounting for discrimination among African Americans, US-born Afro-Caribbeans and first-generation Black immigrants. Findings from logistic regression analyses adjusted for discrimination suggested an arrest history is associated with 12-month MDD (Adjusted OR=1.47; 95% CI=1.02-2.10) and lifetime MDD (Adjusted OR=1.56 CI=1.17-2.09). Accounting for drug and alcohol dependence attenuated the association between arrest history and 12-month MDD, but not lifetime MDD. The associations between arrest history and both 12-month and lifetime MDD, and discrimination and lifetime MDD varied by ethnic/immigrant group. Specifically, while the association between arrest history and MDD (both 12-month and lifetime) was strongest among US-born Afro-Caribbeans, evidence consistent with the immigrant paradox, the association between discrimination and lifetime MDD was particularly relevant for first-generation Black immigrants, suggesting discrimination may hinder the protection of first-generation status. Mental health prevention and treatment programs should target the stress associated with being arrested and experiencing discrimination among US Blacks.
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