Focus and Focus+ Icon

Discrimination and African American health inequities

This article looks at the effects of interpersonal racism on health.


  • The brain processes interpersonal racism as social pain in the same regions associated with the emotional components of physical pain.
  • Exposure to perceived discrimination triggers a stress response; when this exposure is chronic, the stress response creates wear and tear on the body, increasing the risk of adverse health outcomes.
  • In part because of discrimination, African Americans are at increased risk of adverse health outcomes, including low birth weight, hypertension, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.
  • Health inequities begin even before birth and build over a lifetime.
  • This disproportionate risk of adverse health outcomes helps explain the disproportionate effect of Covid-19 on African Americans.



Health, Inequality & Mobility, Racial/Ethnic Inequality, Social Determinants of Health


, ,