White racism has been shown to shorten lives and is linked to fatal heart disease for both the victims and the perpetrators—blacks and whites, respectively. The findings come from UC Berkeley, who compared racial biases of nearly 1.4 million people nationwide to death rates in over 1,700 American counties. The findings of the study unveiled that blacks and whites who live in racist communities have a higher risk of death by fatal heart disease and other circulatory diseases.
Study lead author Jordan Leitner said, “This suggests that living in a racially hostile environment might be detrimental to both the group targeted by this bias, in this case blacks, as well as the group that harbors the bias, in this case whites.”
Racial gaps were also found in perceived affordable health care. Blacks reported having less access to affordable health care if they resided in racist communities; whites, on the other hand, were found to have higher access to affordable health care whether there was a racial bias or not.
The researchers compared death rates from circulatory diseases with racial bias data. The data was self-reported, which can be unreliable, but the outpour of responses shed light on racial views and attitudes of the communities.
Analysis of the data revealed higher rates of fatal heart disease in racially hostile environments, and blacks were the most affected by this trend.
Leitner added, “We found that whites’ explicit bias was more powerful than their implicit bias at predicting negative health outcomes for blacks.”
What This Means
The study reinforces not only the power of racism but it also raises awareness of the unconscious racial bias that resides in many American communities. Although explicit racism has declined on a national scale, on the smaller scale of small-town America, it is still prevalent and has negative effects on the health of people living in these areas.
Anwar, Y., “White racism linked to fatal heart disease for blacks and whites,” Berkeley News web site, Sept 6 2016; http://news.berkeley.edu/2016/09/06/racism-heart-health/, last accessed September 8, 2016.