W1: The role of Race and health

A lot of people have a predisposition about race based on the way that they were raised. Socially, race is viewed by an association of a certain behavior with a skin color. In today’s society certain races are defined with a specific behavior that is associated with a behavior, economic status, and appearance. These predisposition towards certain people began back as far as the 1600’s, having origins dealing with the original racism, slavery.  This type of slavery was primarily based on skin color,  which is still a point of racism in today’s society.  Of course this isn’t the same for every country and ethnicity. Different people view racism differently as far as who is inferior or superior to another race. Socially this is primarily based on your ethnicity and geographical location. 

From a biological view point, racism is based on a division of sub-species. Every type of human belongs to the same species because they can create off spring and interbreed, but because of this there are sub species.  Sub species in basic terms means that there is a greater number of differences between two sub species, then there is within a single sub species, and so race is formed because on these differences.  Essentially there is no biological difference between humans based on race. “There is only one race, the human race”. 

Ethnicity has a large influence on health.  When we talk about ethnicity we mostly refer to our culture, customs and lifestyle choices, these play a large role in our health. Certain diseases are more commonly seen in certain ethnicities. This is not because them as a race has some sort of biological mutation that allows them to be more susceptible to the disease.  The main reason certain ethnicities contract certain diseases or have similar health problems is because of the actions of their ancestors. This can be anything from a certain geographical location to a certain food that was commonly consumed.  Many immigrants that came to America and other countries, settles in areas that exposed them to poverty, disease and low health. As Dr. Anthony Pryce states as a reason for poor health amongst an ethnicity” Like other waves of immigration, Irish migration too is aligned with poorer housing, poverty and poor health as well as discrimination and prejudice.Excluded groups tend to undertake more risky physical labour, low status and therefore higher levels of injury and occupational disease and ill health” (Pryce, Anthony). 

Race is a very complex subject that has many different reasons for why it is still prevalent today. Health plays a role in race that is also complicated and often misperceived. Throughout time more and more of these misperceptions have been justified, but there is still a lot of controversy and reasonable discussion on the topics. 

3 thoughts on “W1: The role of Race and health

  1. Hi Jennifer!

    I agree that race is really complex and most people do not understand that having a different skin color than someone is equivalent to having a different eye color than someone. Unfortunately, we make assumptions based on the race of someone and put them into a certain social group. For example, we talked about the English and the Irish and how they were classified as different races at one point because of different social standings but they both have the same skin color. Eventually it turned to more about skin color than what country they were from. I liked how when you talked about health you referred to ethnicity rather than race, because it is based on the actions of our ancestors and how they had to adapt to where they originated. Most people only see a skin color and associate certain diseases with their “race”. This has potential to cause great stress on a person, and could farther deplete their health. I also agree that the role race plays in health is very complex and there is still so much controversy. Great post!


  2. Hey Jennifer. Great post! I love that you mention how we have a predisposition about race due to how we were raised. We are subject to the effects of racism even when we don’t try from very early on. Peggy McIntosh wrote a great piece called Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack that is all about white privilege and how we don’t notice it unfolding around us. Personally, during my upbringing I always found it easy to go about daily life without questioning if certain things were happening because of my race.
    Race is definitely a very complex topic that receives more credit than necessary, since technically it isn’t even a real concept. Even as I write this post, I understand that race isn’t real but I am still questioning how it is used in everyday life, which is apart of the problem. I can’t help but feel as though it’s only used to create hierarchies more than anything, like how you mentioned ethnic discrimination. Years and years ago, racism came in the form of ethnicities, like the Irish, until it became more convenient to use skin color, which you pointed out in your blog post when you switched from talking about race to talking about ethnicity.

  3. Jennifer,

    I really enjoyed reading your post! I completely agree with the statement about our predisposition to racism. I was raised to not see color, coming from a very non-racist family. But, where I grew up as a child consisted of a lot of families raising their children to be racist. In my high school the whites hung out the the whites and the blacks hung out with the blacks. To me this was very disturbing. Why was it that in 2013 and even now the people of America choose to separate themselves solely based on race? This is something that we are currently learning about and Im excited to wrap my head around. Its truly sad how long racism has been around. Although race doesn’t exist because we are all human, racism does exist. To me this is something that we as Americans need to do something about. We need to come together as one and put an end to this horrific problem that we are facing today. This problem appears to be getting worse and worse. Unfortunately the people being discriminated against do have to live in poorer living circumstances. The issues that come along with discrimination are the reason why racism still exist. Everyone deserves to be treated equally and given the same opportunity.


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