I’m Black and I’m Strong: The Health Effects of Resilience in the face of Racial Discrimination among Black Americans in Metropolitan Seattle

Doyle, Julius. I’m Black and I’m Strong: The Health Effects of Resilience in the face of Racial Discrimination among Black Americans in Metropolitan Seattle. Pilot Research. 2016

Racial health disparities are caused in part by discrimination. The associations between perceived discrimination and poor physical and mental health are well-established in the research literature. In response to these woeful encounters, Black Americans often experience increased blood pressure, increased mental stress, and elevated stress physiologic function, resulting in health-harming effects that can cause race-patterned disparities. But while the evidence supporting the deleterious effects of discrimination is strong, one must also recognize that not all individuals are susceptible in the same ways. In other words, the pathway from perceived discrimination to psychosomatic harm is one made- up of multidimensional factors which vary in strength, location, duration, and quality. Therefore, while it may be true that the experience of discrimination is a cause for poor mental and physical health, it is also likely that there are some individuals who remain psychosomatically resilient despite having these experiences. My proposal aims to recognize these individuals as well as the psychosocial factors that are potentially related to their somatic integrity. One factor that shows promising potential is the psychosocial construct of “resilience”. By measuring the health effects of resilience, findings could provide implications on the nature of psychosocial stress, racial discrimination, and their relation to the health of Blacks living in metropolitan Seattle and beyond.

The pilot funds will contribute to my dissertation research in two critical ways: (1) the funds will help me to evaluate and tailor my survey instruments to the specific needs and abilities of my target population, and (2) provide me with first-hand experience for engaging with individuals in the field who may inform me about the realities of this research in other ways that the academic literature may not.
 
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