We’re Sick of Racism, LiterallyThe logical implication is that the current epidemic of hate hoaxes that falsely accuse whites of racism, such as the ones exposed last week at the Air Force Academy and Kansas State, are not only anti-white acts of hate, but they are also bad for the health of non-whites by wrongly increasing non-whites’ perceptions of discrimination.
By DOUGLAS JACOBS NOV. 11, 2017
Perceptions of discrimination like those the officers experienced, as well as those that are less direct, may make us sick. And in the current political environment, with its high-profile expressions of racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia and xenophobia, along with widely covered acts of hate and bigotry, countless Americans are at risk of this type of harm.
… We know this because in 2008,researchers studied the effects of discrimination on blood pressure. Black and Latino study participants recorded their interactions with perceived racism and were outfitted with blood pressure monitors. The results were striking. While blood pressure normally dips at night, those who said they’d experienced racism were more likely to have blood pressure that did not — and this has been strongly linked to increased mortality. Over time, this high blood pressure hardens our arteries, increasing the risk of a clot forming in our hearts or brains.
In 2015, researchers examined the effect of discrimination on cortisol, a natural hormone that helps the body deal with stressful situations. They followed black and white children in Maryland, measuring their perceived racial discrimination starting in seventh grade and for 20 years thereafter. When study participants were in their early 30s, researchers calculated their cortisol levels. Perceptions of discrimination consistently predicted slower declines in cortisol level throughout the day, which is associated with obesity, depression, decreased immune function, cancer and death.
These days, it’s nearly impossible to avoid headlines about things like the white nationalists and neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville, Va., and the recent spike in expressions of identity-based hate and harassment. …
Even if one denies that these self-reported instances constituted actual discrimination, it is this perception of discrimination, in and of itself, that is linked to poor health.
Worse, we know that racism doesn’t have to be experienced in person to affect our health — taking it in the form of news coverage is likely to have similar effects. After all, studies have shown that when television viewers observe scenes depicting racism, their blood pressure remains elevated long after the scenes are over. That means it’s reasonable to believe that every time we see a TV news segment or even get a notification on our phones about an event, statement or policy that we believe represents discrimination, our bodies pay the price.
Douglas Jacobs is an internal medicine resident at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
Of course, nobody involved in writing or editing this op-ed appears to have noticed this. After all, Hate Hoaxes aren’t a thing