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Mon, April 2, 2018, noon: Sean Reardon on Educational Inequality

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Hicken studies how discrimination and vigilance differentially impact black and white women

a PSC In The News reference

"Daily onslaught of ‘vigilance’ affects health of black women" - Michigan Chronicle. 02/27/2018.

Using data from the Chicago Community Adult Health Study, Margaret Hicken and colleagues studied the levels of discrimination and vigilance among black and white women, and how those measures correlated to body mass index and waist circumference. Hicken explains that discrimination entails day-to-day instances of prejudice whereas vigilance is a never-ending, daily anticipation of discrimination or prejudice. Pscyhosocial stress can cause both overeating and metabolic changes that lead to weight gain. In turn, a high WC is a significant risk factor for chronic diseases such as CVD and diabetes.

They found that black women had higher levels of vigilance and discrimination and higher mean BMI and WC. They also found that vigilance (but not discrimination) was related to WC for black women and that discrimination (but not vigilance) was related to WC for white women. These results suggest that vigilant coping style may be an important marker of racism-related stress for black women, with a health harmful link to body weight.

Related journal article


Margaret Hicken

More Media Coverage:

YouTube. Racism's Effect on Health [video]. 2/26/2018.

Michigan News. The weight of racism: Daily onslaught of 'vigilance' affects health of black women. 2/27/2018.

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