Everything’s Connected: The Stress
We all know the statistics. Black people in the United States have the highest rates of a ridiculous number of chronic medical conditions. Hypertension, high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, you name it. Even though some of that is due to bad eating habits and socioeconomic status, a large part of it is also due to the hundreds of years of adverse acculturation of a stolen people. A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that
“Black people have higher rates of hypertension, which is exacerbated by sodium retention. But in order for slaves to make it through the hellish Middle Passage they had to be predisposed to retain electrolytes. Electrolytes whose primary ion is sodium.”
Which is just an example of how hundreds of years of slavery, racism and oppression adversely impact the Black community. Everything is connected.
We all encounter racism at varying rates, and we deal with racism in different ways. The severity of the racism can vary as well. From the police officer following my friends and I through a Bible-Belt liquor store, to a White guy calling my mom a “Nigger Bitch” when she was at a tennis court.
Yeah. Racism is real and its sprinkled all over the place in millions of forms. We live life knowing that some people think that it’s unsafe to sit next to us and that there are billboards saying that a Black woman’s womb is the most dangerous place for a child.
Turns out all of this perceived racism is having a physiological effect on us.
The American Journal of Public Health published a report about survey and psychophysiological studies that examine the Physiological Responses to Racism and Discrimination. The researchers did an assessment of evidence and compiled the multitude of ways that stress from perceived racism is killing us.
Survey research of 100 Black men and women indicated that the tendency to embrace mainstream American culture was associated with higher blood pressure and heart rates. And it was associated with higher degrees of hostility. That means that all of that code switching that we’re doing at the office is impacting our health and making us more likely to snap when we step out of the office.
The Division of Population Science at the Fox Chase Cancer Center examined the effects of racial stressors on cardiovascular reactivity. 31 Black males and 31 White males were shown racist and neutral videos. Although the racist videos increased blood pressure for both samples, the Black people maintained the high blood pressure after the video was done. So when a White person sees something racist, it affects them at that moment. If a Black person sees something racist, it just keeps affecting them. Damn, and some of you guys have to deal with this everyday
All those little instances of office racism keep adding up on our nerves. But we’ve gotta live. How can we change the world if everyone’s life expectancy is shortened by high blood pressure and shit? Eat right, exercise, drink water, drink some camomile tea, get a massage, “woosah”, anything you can do to relieve the stress that we deal with as Black people in America.
Because its all connected.