Racism and Health I: Pathways and Scientific Evidence

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Williams, D. R.
Mohammed, S. A.
Williams, D. R. and Mohammed, S. A. (2013) Racism and Health I: Pathways and Scientific Evidence. American Behavioral Scientist, 57 (8). p. 1152.
This article reviews the scientific research that indicates that despite marked declines in public support for negative racial attitudes in the United States, racism, in its multiple forms, remains embedded in American society. The focus of the article is on the review of empirical research that suggests that racism adversely affects the health of nondominant racial populations in multiple ways. First, institutional racism developed policies and procedures that have reduced access to housing, neighborhood and educational quality, employment opportunities, and other desirable resources in society. Second, cultural racism, at the societal and individual level, negatively affects economic status and health by creating a policy environment hostile to egalitarian policies, triggering negative stereotypes and discrimination that are pathogenic and fostering health-damaging psychological responses, such as stereotype threat and internalized racism. Finally, a large and growing body of evidence indicates that experiences of racial discrimination are an important type of psychosocial stressor that can lead to adverse changes in health status and altered behavioral patterns that increase health risks.