NIH Grant Funds a Study on How Racism Impacts the Health of African Americans

Naa Oyo Kwate, an associate professor of human ecology and an associate professor of Africana studies at Rutgers University is leading a team of researchers in the Black LIFE (Linking Inequality, Feelings, and Environment) Study. The program is being funded by a $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

The study seeks answers to two questions:

  1. What effect does racism have on the body?
  2. What can society do about the problem?

Researchers will conduct hundreds of interviews with African Americans in high poverty areas about their experiences with racism. The subjects will also undergo medical tests to determine their health status. The researchers are also conducting neighborhood surveys to document instances of institutional racism such as alcohol or tobacco advertising targeted at Black Americans, as well as the proliferation of liquor stores and fast food restaurants.

Dr. Kwate says, “We are not talking about race in terms of genes, but in terms of what resources and opportunities people have access to. Most people don’t think about how the broader processes of inequality affect a person’s ability to engage in healthy behaviors.”

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