Laura Smart Richman, an assistant research professor in Duke University’s Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, is the lead investigator on a new study that finds that people who previously experienced discrimination –- especially optimistic and trusting people — suffer larger jumps in blood pressure when performing a stressful task such as talking about a situation that made them angry. Richman, interviewed by Science Daily, says:
“These results are consistent with discrimination being a chronic stressor that is related to acute stress responses, particularly for blacks. It also may help to explain why people who experience more discrimination in their lives tend to have worse health outcomes. It’s being understood more and more that discrimination may be an important contributor to racial health disparities.”
The health consequences of racial inequality is a theme I’ve talked about here before, and it’s interesting to see more research – this from neuroscience – piling up to suggest that racism and discrimination, perhaps as much as structural inequality, is responsible for the negative health consequences. I do wonder where the research is on the people who are doing the discriminating. Is there a health benefit, say a lowering of blood pressure, when people act to discriminate? Things to ponder on a Friday morning.