Racial discrimination and health

Frequently experiencing the stress caused by racial discrimination—whether in the form of lower wages in the workplace than one’s peers or living in a poor neighborhood with a high rate of violence and little access to fresh fruits and vegetables—can significantly impact peoples’ mental and physical health,  David Williams, Florence Sprague Norman and Laura Smart Norman Professor of Public Health, at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Professor of African and African American Studies and of Sociology at Harvard University, said in an August 17, 2016 Facebook Live Q&A with the Washington Post.

Being exposed to chronic stress has been shown to contribute to the early onset of heart disease, Williams said, highlighting some examples of the cumulative impact of discrimination. “Women who are pregnant and who experience everyday discrimination give birth to lower birth weight infants. Among elderly persons followed over time, discrimination is actually an independent risk factor hastening their death.”

Learn more

Racial bias and its effect on health care (Harvard Chan School News)

Stress plays key role in racial disparities in health (Harvard Chan School News)

Health disparities between blacks and whites run deep (Harvard Chan School News)

Progress, but challenges in reducing racial disparities (Harvard Chan School News)

Race, Criminal Justice, and Health (Harvard Chan Forum)