Wednesday, February 26, 2014


In my last blog as a first reader I thought that internalized sexism could affect health like the other stressors we discussed. I believe that internalized racism affect health long term in the same way, and after Monday’s lecture about hyper alertness and vigilance behavior, I wanted to find evidence that this sort of condition exists. I found a video on youtube composed of multiple studies that show strong evidence of internalized racism at varying young ages. In the study African American and Latino children were faced with a white baby doll and a black baby doll. When asked which one was pretty, they chose the white doll. When asked which one was good, they again chose the white doll. When asked which one was bad, they chose the black doll. When asked which one was ugly, the black doll once more. The researchers asked why these children felt negatively about dark skin and they responded, “I don’t know.” Then, white children were faced with five different pictures of children that ranged from pale white to dark brown. The white children replicated the same answers the african american gave and when asked why the dark skin was bad they responded, “Because they are black.” I believe that vigilance behavior creates a stress response that is lasting and permanent that can have long term serious effects on health. Stereotype threat, the fear of never adhering to negative stereotypes about your race can also cause a long term stress response. Out of the five models of that account for health disparities I think the psycho stress model and structural constructionist models are the most accurate. Feeling that ones skin color is lesser to that of another’s, and feeling negative toward ones own identity at such a young age shows just how prevalent internalized racism is. These children are aware of the negative stereotypes surrounding their own skin color and the stereotypes surrounding the skin color of others. Constant reminders in the media and from interpersonal experiences like other children and adults have shaped their understanding of themselves. In tune with the readings for this week, I believe that all other models have some bearing. All of them combined, taking into account other factors like genetics and health behaviors plus genetics, can all play a role in health outcomes. 

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