A new study by researchers at Cornell University, Harvard University, and the University of Southern California, presents evidence that everyday racial discrimination and microaggressions can have a significant negative impact on the health of African Americans. Researchers interviewed a large group of African American adults in Milwaukee on their experiences with everyday racism. They also took blood, urine, and saliva samples to test for biomarkers of elevated disease risk.
The results showed a correlation between the frequency of incidents of everyday discrimination for African Americans and health risks for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, obesity, and other life-limiting conditions.
Anthony D. Ong, an associate professor of human development in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University and the lead author of the study, stated that “chronic experiences of discrimination and mistreatment can affect health in the most insidious of ways, both because such experiences can undercut rights and opportunities that may be of vital importance to stigmatized groups and because they have the potential to negate the significance of personal agency and identity in the lives of marginalized individuals.”
The study, “Everyday Unfair Treatment and Multisystem Biological Dysregulation in African-American Adults,” will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology. The full text of the article can be accessed at Dr. Ong’s Cornell University webpage.