Student of Color Perspectives: Stressed Out

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Hi! I’m Naomie Shembo and I will be one of your first-year bloggers for Student of Color Perspectives. I blog about what it’s like the be #Black@Brown, in order to give some insight on what it is like to be a student of color here!

So, I’m taking this first-year seminar called Inequalities in Healthcare, in which my classmates and I spend a huge amount of time discussing, you guessed it, inequalities in healthcare. Being a black and being pre-med make this class especially relevant to my every day life. This week in class we talked about the effect that long-term stress can have on people’s bodies, and I mean from a neutral perspective, this makes sense. Of course years of stress will have some sort of biological manifestation on the human body. The kicker though is that black people are being disproportionately affected by this long term stress. Racism is literally making my people sick. 

As a college student, specifically a Brown student, I would say that my level of stress is probably a 12 on a scale of 1 to 5 on any given day (especially today because I procrastinated my entire Saturday away). But until this last class period, I never really gave any thought to how/if my race would exacerbate my stress level consciously or subconsciously. But it turns out, that just by being a black woman I am already exposed to a larger amount of chronic stressors than my white counterparts. Which is genuinely disappointing and frustrating.

The more I learn about race in America, and what it actually means to be black in this falsely colorblind society the more I get disappointed. It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that my race is impacting my life in more than just abstract social ways. I would encourage you to do more research into this idea that the racism black people face on a daily basis results in an increased susceptibility to chronic illnesses like high blood pressure and hypertension.

I know this post has is teetering on the edge of pessimistic, but I feel like people need to be aware of the fact that how black people are treated in society has more than just social ramifications. Studies keep on finding that black people are more at risk to chronic diseases because of a lifetime of stress born out of exposure to discrimination and racism. It’s 20-freaking-16, like come on. We shouldn’t still be dealing with this issues.

But of course, the fact that discussions about this issues are happening at places like Brown means that we’re making some sort of progress. Teaching high-achieving students about the intersectionality of stress and race increases the chances that kids from our generation will work to improve these issues when they start landing leadership positions in society.

Until next week,

Naomie Shembo

I am always here if you have any questions or just want to learn more about Brown! Just email me at naomie_shembo@brown.edu and I will get back to you ASAP.

 

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