Study Finds Racial Discrimination May Harm Black People’s Cognitive Health

Chronic stress can change the way our brain functions. Stress affects everything from our sleeping and eating habits, our ability to think clearly, and the way we interact with people. A study published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment, & Disease Monitoring suggested that experiencing racial discrimination can lead to increased stress, health problems, and hampered cognitive functionality.

Overview of the Study

Researchers were concerned with heightened stress levels among people of color due to racial discrimination and the implications the heightened stress levels have for Alzheimer’s diagnoses.

The study examined the cognitive function of individuals who frequently experience racism in the form of racial slurs, poor customer service, or stereotypes, and those who do not experience such racism. Cognitive function refers to a person’s mental capacity for learning, thinking, reasoning, problem-solving, decision-making, remembering, and paying attention.

The study found that Black people who experience racism daily had 2.75 times the risk of poor subjective cognitive functioning than people who experienced lower levels of racism. Additionally, the study looked at those who reported being the victims of institutional racism, or racial discrimination in regard to employment, housing, or authorities, versus those who have not felt such discrimination at work, in the housing market, or with authorities.

The study revealed that those who encountered the greatest degree of institutional racism were 2.66 times more likely to report poor cognitive functioning than people who experienced institutional racism less often.

Racial Discrimination and the Law

In the United States, employment discrimination laws are designed and put in place to protect employees from the institutional racism mentioned above. Race, age, gender, and sexual orientation are all protected categories under the United States’ employment discrimination laws. Not only can racial discrimination be detrimental to your mental health, but it can also be detrimental to your overarching livelihood. If you are the victim of employment discrimination on the bases of race, age, gender, or sexual orientation contact an employment discrimination lawyer in Columbia today.