Post-racial rhetoric, racial health disparities, and health disparity consequences of stigma, stress, and racism
Darrick Hamilton, Associate Professor of Economics and Urban Policy, The New School
We explore the paradox of why high achieving black Americans, as measured by education, still exhibit large health disparities. We discuss how the post-racial, politics of personal responsibility and “neoliberal paternalism” troupes discourage a public responsibility for the conditions of the poor and black Americans, and, instead, encourage punitive measures to “manage…surplus populations” of the poor and black Americans. We introduce an alternative frame and integrate it with John Henryism as a link to better understand the paradox above – the added efforts and stigma imposed upon high achieving blacks that threaten the relative position of the dominant white group translates in deleterious health for high achieving blacks. Ultimately, we explore how the potential physical and psychological costs of stigma and, ironically, exerting individual agency, which in the context of racist or stigmatized environment, may explain the limited role of education and income as protective health factors for blacks relative to whites.