May 27, 2016
This month Camara Jones visited our school to deliver the Jonathan Mann Health and Human Rights Memorial Lecture and eloquently spoke about racism and the multifaceted ways in which racism can affect health. When we think about the impact of racism on health one of the first things that comes to mind is what Dr. Jones refers to as “personally-mediated” racism. Personally mediated racism results in a collection of often subtle but pervasive and persistent daily experiences that can set off the body’s “fight or flight” responses leading to a cascade of physiologic effects that can trigger things like deposition of body fat, diabetes, and elevations of blood pressure. Dr. Jones also spoke about the role of internalized racism, in her words “the acceptance by members of the stigmatized races of negative messages about their own abilities and intrinsic worth”. Internalized racism can also have subtle yet important effects on health. But perhaps the most profound way in which racism affects health has to do with institutionalized racism.