Discrimination Makes African Americans Stronger Essay

1842 words - 7 pages

In the past, research has shown that the black-American community’s exposure to social inequality and discrimination has had a negative impact on their mental health.  To summarize this general theory, Dr. Kwame McKenzie states, “In the USA, interpersonal discrimination has been associated with increased rates of hypertension, depression and stress” (Chakraborty).  Despite the several social and technological advances that the United States has made over the past few decades, we have not necessarily freed ourselves from the constraints of racism.  In a 2009 study evaluating the rates of perceived discrimination among blacks, 60.9% claimed to have experienced day-to-day racism (Keyes).  Past studies have used these statistics to prove that this perceived discrimination is a stressor that can cause a variety of mental illnesses, ranging from anxiety, to depression, to phobia.  However, a recent paradigm shift has occurred, changing the way researchers are looking at black-American psychology.
Psychologists have recognized a certain fortitude within the black community, leading them to believe that discrimination, in actuality, has not had as much of a deteriorating effect as previously understood.  To prove this theory, researchers compared the psychological health of both blacks and whites and discovered that in today’s society, blacks actually have better mental health than whites (Keyes).  But why do black-Americans have such high psychological health?  Since blacks experience significantly more racism than whites, shouldn’t blacks have worse mental health?  Psychologists infer that despite discrimination, many blacks actually exhibit a certain resilience that causes them to have better psychological health.  Given this knowledge, it is important to consider what implications this shift could have for the future. It could alter the way Americans view black-American psychology and even have drastic effects on practices such as affirmative action.
Not too long ago, psychological research focused on the notion that racism has a negative impact on the mental health of black-Americans.  In an NPR segment onMental Health in the Black Community, Dr. Primm corroborates such data, affirming, “culture and race definitely play a role. The fact that African-Americans are often looked upon negatively, unfortunately, in our society…contributes to the stigma surrounding mental illness” (Primm).  The idea that black-Americans have better mental health defies what is anticipated, thus creating a paradox.  Research has shown that physical and mental illness are comorbid, meaning they occur together and as a result of each other.  This is primarily because mental illness can cause physical disabilities.  “Biomedical research consistently finds that blacks have worse physical health than whites, even after controlling for...

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