Thursday, February 28, 2013

Stress, Health and African American Women: A Black History Month Notation


February is African-American History Month, an annual observance for remembrance of important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. This observance is the most visible legacy of the son of former slaves and scholar Carter G. Woodson who held a Masters Degree from University of Chicago and a Ph.D from Harvard University one hundred years ago in 1912. He pioneered defining a category of history related to ethnic culture and race.
African American women, stress and health: According to solid research, historically African American women are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of race-related stress, given their socially constructed identities as African Americans and as women. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that racial discrimination is a chronic stressor that can negatively impact the cardiovascular health of African Americans through pathogenic processes associated with serious negative reactive changes in blood pressure and heart rate. 2 African American women report more frequent encounters with everyday unfair treatment than Caucasian women. African American women who live in the city report a greater number of acute life events as stressors (divorce, marriage, job loss, etc) than Caucasian women. It's no surprise that socioeconomic status, everyday experiences with unfair treatment and acute life events each make a significant contribution to differences in women's health status.3
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