Racism is bad for your health
From apartheid to lynchings, discrimination to expulsion, racism can be very bad for the health of people on the receiving end of it. But it can also be bad news for the racists themselves.
According to new book, Are We Born Racist?, which looks at the science and psychology behind racism, prejudice is bad for your health.
A number of studies reported in the book show that when confronted with members of another race, racists experience an acute stress reaction. The cortisol which courses through their veins as a result is part of our natural ‘fight or flight’ reaction: great in the short term for the instant energy needed for running away from sabre-toothed tigers but very damaging in the long–term because cortisol breaks down muscle tissue including the heart and undermines the immune system.
The book concludes bluntly that if you live in a multicultural society and hold racist views you are slowly killing yourself.
Cured by friendship
But there is hope. One of the book's contributors Elizabeth Page-Gould says that racism can be overcome. She reports on a study she carried out in which racist individuals were given ‘friendship building’ tasks with members of another race. ‘Over the next several weeks, we watched cortisol levels diminish in prejudiced participants,’ she says, ‘a trend that lasted throughout the friendship meetings’. And, indeed, beyond.
- Elizabeth Page-Gould: Warning - Racism Is Bad for Your Health
Page created on October 5th, 2010
Page updated on October 7th, 2010