“We found robust associations between area racism and heart disease, cancer, and stroke, leading causes of death among Blacks. Racial disparities in mortality from these diseases may be influenced by racism through biobehavioral channels engaged in the threat response.”
The above quote is part of a conclusion found in a study about racism as a stressor in the lives of Black folk. The peered review research paper titled, “Association between an Internet-Based Measure of Area Racism and Black Mortality” found that certain areas of the United States are more racially intolerant and those racist attitudes negatively impact the health of African-Americans living in those areas.
But which areas of the country are more racist? The deep South, right? WRONG. According to the study that used data from Google searches, Appalachia was found to be the most racist section of the United States. This made headline news back 2015 when the study was published. See Washington Post article here.
Researchers analyzed the number of times the N-Word was searched on Google in all the 210 media markets in the nation. And cross checked that data from US Census Bureau data and National Center for Health Statistics on black mortality rates.
Stress makes people sick. Racism creates stress.
From the study conducted by the Public Library of Science:
“A growing body of evidence indicates that the unique constellation of environmental stressors and psychosocial challenges experienced by Blacks in the US contributes to accelerated declines in health and generates racial disparities.
Of these stressors, there has been increasing attention to the impact of racism-related factors, including interpersonal experiences of racial discrimination.
Racially motivated experiences of discrimination impact health via diminished socioeconomic attainment and by enforcing patterns in racial residential segregation, geographically isolating large segments of the Black population into worse neighborhood conditions.
These areas are typically characterized by social anathemas such as poverty and crime, and fewer health-promoting resources, including recreational facilities, parks, supermarkets, and quality healthcare. Such characteristics shape health behaviors such as exercise, diet, and substance use.
Racial discrimination in employment can also lead to lower income and greater financial strain, which in turn have been linked to worse mental and physical health outcomes.”
The Study concluded, “These findings are congruent with studies documenting the deleterious impact of racism on health among Blacks. Our study contributes to evidence that racism shapes patterns in mortality and generates racial disparities in health.”
Central Pennsylvania was included in the areas found to be highly racist.