As all of the readings and videos for this week alluded to and discussed, racism has an evident affect on health. I couldn’t believe 70% of white Americans think racial discrimination is a “problem of the past”. Prior to reading these articles I definitely saw the correlation between socioeconomic status and health and between race and health, but only if race was tied to a particular socioeconomic status. I was very surprised to learn about racism influencing health in cases where socioeconomic status wasn’t even a factor. In the video segment, “When the Bough Breaks,” they talk a lot about the effect of racism on health, particularly regarding pregnancy and birth outcomes. Chronic stress, a severe symptom of a life of racial discrimination, can really take a toll on one’s body and can have a long-term impact on the health of not only individuals, but also entire families. This is a predominant problem in the African-American community in the United States today. Racism is affecting African-American children before they are even born. Dr. Michael Lu, M.D., suggests this problem can be explained by the “Life Course Perspective”; birth outcomes are directly influenced by the entire life course of the mother and all of the stress and exposure she has endured during her life.
I also found many of the statistics and ratios presented in the articles very surprising, such as the fact that African-American women with a college education have the same rate of infant mortality as white American women high school drop outs. The most surprising fact, however, is that the United States is ranked 34th in the world in infant survival. Maybe I am just naïve and haven’t been exposed to enough information about infant survival and prenatal care, but that is a hard realization to wrap my head around. I do not deny that racism still exists in the United States, but I am surprised how much correlation lies between race and health, even when you disregard socioeconomic status.