Weathering Is Killing Black People

The stress of racism is killing Black people, writes Tanya Russell in Self.

Viral footage of Black people dying at the hands of police officers and vigilantes shows the worst-case scenario of racial profiling. And yet, as jaded and traumatized as we are, we are taking to the streets and social media, continuing what seems like a never-ending quest for racial equality, equity, and justice. And we’re tired of constantly dealing with the physiological effects of this trauma.

The effects of this can actually be measured through allostatic load, which is a metric used to quantify the accumulation of chronic stress-related health effects in the body. “The body is always trying to maintain balance, and the term allostasis is used to describe this process for buffering the stress response, which may be activated by [something] psychological, like discrimination, or environmental, like light exposure during the sleep cycle,” Olivia Affuso, Ph.D., associate professor at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, tells SELF. As SELF previously reported, experts can calculate a person’s allostatic load with various lab tests.

Stress can affect anyone’s body, but Black people have a higher allostatic load score than white people, according to research published in the Journal of National Medical Association. Research also points to racism as a culprit, and this has been problematic long before social media amplified racial trauma to a viral level. This concept is also known as weathering.

Russell, Tanya. (2020, July 1). Let’s Not Forget, Weathering Is Also Killing Black People. Self. https://www.self.com/story/weathering

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