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Study: Racial Discrimination Linked to Depression in Black Men

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I gotta tell you: this racism stuff can be quite depressing. I mean, when you think about the everyday stress of just being a Black man trying to make a dollar out of fifteen cents. Add to that the occasional side-eyes and “suspicious” looks from blue-haired purse-clutchers, and angry looks from white Anglo Saxon males which begs the question, “why is your penis bigger than mine?” The daily chore of waking up being a Black man in America sure has a way of, well, making a brotha lose his mind, “Up in here! Up in here!” Yep, and y’all thought it was the crack that made DMX crazy.

If you don’t believe me, a recent study, “Taking It Like a Man: Masculine Role Norms as Moderators of the Racial Discrimination–Depressive Symptoms Association Among African-American Men,” published online in the American Journal of Public Health lays out the following:

Enduring subtle, insidious acts of racial discrimination is enough to depress anyone, but African-American men who believe that they should respond to stress with stoicism and emotional control experience more depression symptoms, according to new findings from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The study, “Taking It Like a Man: Masculine Role Norms as Moderators of the Racial Discrimination–Depressive Symptoms Association Among African-American Men,” was published online March 8, 2012, in the American Journal of Public Health.

“We know that traditional role expectations are that men will restrict their emotions – or ‘take stress like a man,’” said study authorWizdom Powell Hammond, Ph.D., assistant professor of health behavior in UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health. “However, the more tightly some men cling to these traditional role norms, the more likely they are to be depressed.

“It also is clear that adherence to traditional role norms is not always harmful to men,” Hammond said. “But we don’t know a lot about how these norms shape how African-American men confront stressors, especially those that are race-related.”

Hammond studied the phenomenon researchers call everyday racism, which is marked not so much by magnitude or how egregious the prejudice and torment were, but by persistence and subtlety.
“It chips away at people’s sense of humanity and very likely at their hope and optimism,” Hammond said. “We know these daily hassles have consequences for men’s mental health, but we don’t know why some men experience depression while others do not.”

Hammond studied data collected from surveys of 674 African-American men, aged 18 and older, carried out at barber shops in four U.S. regions between 2003 and 2010.

She found that everyday racial discrimination was associated with depression across all age groups. Younger men (aged under 40) were more depressed, experienced more discrimination and had a stronger allegiance to norms encouraging them to restrict their emotions than men over 40 years old. Furthermore, some men who embraced norms encouraging more self-reliance reported less depression.

The results showed associations, not necessarily causation, Hammond noted.

The data also showed that when men felt strongly about the need to shut down their emotions, then the negative effect of discrimination on their mental health was amplified. The association was particularly apparent for men aged 30 years and older.

“It seems as though there may be a cumulative burden or long-term consequences of suffering such persistent discriminatory slights and hassles in silence,” Hammond said. “Our next task is to determine when embracing traditional role norms are harmful or helpful to African American men’s mental health.”

The information will help target future interventions to subgroups of men, rather than try to reach all men with one general approach.

“African-American men are not all alike, just as all people in any group are not alike,” Hammond said. “The way they feel, respond and react changes over time as they normally develop. The slings and arrows of everyday racism still exist, and we need to find targeted ways to help men defend against them while also working to address the policy structures that project them.”

Currently, Hammond is part of the 2011-2012 class of White House Fellows. Founded in 1964, the leadership and public service program offers fellows a first-hand experience working at the highest levels of the federal government.

Hammond also is a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Something tells me that the creators of malt liquor and menthol cigarettes already knew this information. No word yet as to whether there’s a pill us brothas can take for this. But something yells me that it’s not in the works. After all, here in A’muurcuh, we’s post-racial now, riiiiight?

(H/T to Dr. Mark Anthony Neal)

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Published on: March 31, 2012

Filled Under: Race

Views: 1484

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  • http://theurbanpolitico.com/ Shady Grady

    This is important information to get out there. Thanks.

    • http://rippdemup.com/ RiPPa

      Hey, brother!

      Thanks for coming thru; as always, share the wealth.

  • Anonymous

    Nice post. Shared this.

    • http://rippdemup.com/ RiPPa

      Thanks for sharing and getting the word out on this, brother!

  • http://macklyons.blogspot.com/ Mack Lyons

    Racism against black American men causes depression in black American men? Who knew? Thanks for getting this out there.

    • http://rippdemup.com/ RiPPa

      Well you know ain’t nuthin’ official until “certain people” says it is.

  • Agent3189

    I turned 23 today and as a young black male, I am simply disgusted by the racial politics. I just do not feel like there is any value on a black man’s life. I frequent places like yahoo and various other websites an I am disgusted and angered by the anti black opposition that is so freely slung around. Yahoo has an article up about how the first 2 black women have been promoted as captains of the US capital police in DC. Nothing but cries of affirmative action and anti black statements. Now normally we would call these people TROLLS, but let’s be honest. 

    This stuff intrigues me and haunts me so badly because I think these are real fucking people saying this stuff! How do i know its not my neighborhood pharmacist who smiles in my black face and makes light hearted conversation with me. How do I know its not the friendly white cashier I always laugh with at the gas station posting shit like that everywhere? I take that stuff seriously because it starts at speech, then if you allow people to move forward with their hate speech, they start to move on to hateful tactics to stop you from living a productive life either physically or politically. I feel so out of place as not only a GAY male but a BLACK GAY MALE.  I do frequent the blogs of the most prominent gay activists whom happen to be white. Some things were posted about the Trayvon Martin case and there was plenty of posts from these white gay males calling young black men monkeys and various other implied racial insults. I couldn’t believe that even there, I have no place. For a lot of gays, especially white, to bring up black people’s CIVIL rights movement and compare it to their CIVIL rights fight, WHERE THE FUCK DID THIS RACIST SHIT COME FROM? It’s no secret there is much racism in the gay community, after all, they are WHITE MEN at the end of the day. Then you have NOM’s papers leaking about how they are intentionally trying to drive a wedge between blacks and gays knowing how negroes are super religious and believe damn near anything if you put god behind it. I am often told by family and friends that I am thinking about this stuff too hard, but I never thought in my generation I would struggle with my racial identity. I feel like I’m in a very very bad dream. Im not a quitter and I am not going to give up pursuing my own successes or anything, but this shit is real!! 

    • Thunderhead

       Hmmm, as a white guy, we’re getting pretty damned tired of being blamed for everything bad that has ever happened to blacks.  We’re also tired of being preyed on by black thugs (murder, rape, robbery, etc). 

      When 12% of the population commits over 50% of the murders, something is really messed up within that 12%.

      How about blacks beginning to take responsibility for their actions?

      • http://rippdemup.com/ RiPPa

        Hello, angry white man:how the hell are you? Listen, I’m not sure what you’re trying to say about being tired of being blamed for everything bad that happens to blacks. To be honest, I don’t exactly know where exactly this outcry actually takes place, and just who the ombudsman of white folks just might be. Would that be you, perhaps?

        But here’s a more pertinent question I’m hoping you’ll answer: should black people taking responsibility for their own actions involve taking responsibility for being the purveyors of the systemic racism that operates throughout society at large? I’fd surely love to hear answers.

      • http://twitter.com/Coffey0072 Coffey0072

        Spoken like a true person operating under the social construct of White privilege and supremacy; who also likes to derail conversations about racial injustice and make it about him/herself, to avoid addressing the impact this kind of information has on marginalized groups. And @Thunderhead, as a Black woman, I’m also “pretty damned tired” of you all putting the onus on Black people, to pacify your discomfort anytime the topic of race is brought up. This information can’t (and shouldn’t) always be palatable just to suit your hurt sensibilities.

      • Agent3189

        All of us are not criminals and you have no right THUNDERHEAD to blame me for things others that happen to have the same skin color as me have done! Do you go on yahoo and see how all of your white buddies are making nasty snide remarks? cause there are faaaaaaar more anti black comments than there are ever any anti white comments. I bet you sit there and do nothing. Therefore you are tired of being blamed, but I’m not shit to you. None of us are. You dont care whether those like me, who never grew up in a hood, are in college or not. We are not shit to you all and it’s your ancestors that brought us here. We didn’t ask them to come and they did not have to buy. 

    • http://rippdemup.com/ RiPPa

      Unfortunately, being a gay white male doesn’t exclude said individual from being racist. I think that the anonymity of the ihternet gives rise to the hate speech you’ve been exposed to. As a matter of fact, studies have shown that such language online has been on the rise. You’re right, you can never tell just who are the faces behind such language – yes, it can be your next door neighbor.

      The sad thing is that the racist thoughts expressed by many we read online today, are long held beliefs by many in dominant culture. It’s just that it’s easier to sit behind a computer screen and keyboard and say the things most are afraid to express publicly. I don’t think any of this will tone down any time soon.

      However, it’s something that cannot be ignored when the internet has become the new battle field or tool employed in the fight for equality for all.

      • Agent3189

        You know Rippa and it is not like these are older white people that have been first hand exposed to living during our most intense racial times or brought up during the civil rights movement and before. These are younger people and many my age that hold these beliefs and it is getting worse. These dumb white high school girls keep releasing these racist anti black videos from different high schools and then running and hiding when the death threats come.  There should be more done about cyber crime and cyber hate speech. This is why we frown at other countries that censor the net, but this is why they have the last laugh. They are not putting up with that free speech shit. You will not terrorize on their watch. 

  • http://www.curvygurlchronicles.com Melzie

    I totally believe it. And, as much as some sistas don’t want to hear it, we have to start uplifting and supporting the brothers who are doing right and making it despite the hurdles. Will share.

    • http://rippdemup.com/ RiPPa

      Sis, we gotta pull together and build each other up.

  • Reggie

    While I’m trying my damnest to stay upbeat………they really need to get over the penis thing RiPPa……….I mean it is what it is.