Are you showing negative biological signs from dealing with racism? If you’re not sure, read this guide about cultural weathering.
by Andrea Smith | Andrea Smith is a mother of two living in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. She is an avid blogger on her site The Write Gurl, and finds joy in knitting and drinking wine. Follow Andrea on Twitter @JeopardyQueen.
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When you are a person of color in America, your health deterioration can stem from more than just medical conditions–social racism can and does cause physical manifestations. This phenomenon is known as cultural weathering, and it affects minorities in many different ways.
A person experiencing cultural weathering side effects may often find their heart racing, their breath becoming choppy, or even premature aging. While most minorities have become accustomed to this societal phenomenon, it is by no means natural.
Cultural weathering can also be caused through environmental racism, if clean water is hard to come by or high living expenses force people of color to live in unhealthy situations. People of color are more likely to live in areas that produce higher levels of poor air circulation, have excessive traffic, and offer less medical care. Let’s discuss how cultural weathering affects minorities.
How It Affects Maternal Health
The maternal health of mothers is often affected by socioeconomic disadvantages, and often comes with deadly results. As we’ve come to learn, these disadvantages also cause cultural weathering, where the stress of racism causes the health to deteriorate.
Cultural weathering feels similarly to the fears of police brutality. Traumatic. Hopeless. Dangerous. As a result, this may lead to the biological aging of the body which can be linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and most cancers. When there is a pregnant person involved, the effects of cultural weathering can also cause pregnancy complications.
Subtle Racism And Microaggression
Racism can be subtle, and may occur without the offender’s awareness. Examples of subtle racism and micro aggressions include institutional policies, new laws and amended ones, and when white friends say things about groups of people without understanding of their culture or identities.
Here are some social examples that can help you identify if you’ve been the victim of subtle racism or if you have caused a microaggression: following people of color around a store without cause, claiming you’re not racist because you have one or two minority friends, or statements that are made at you but meant to describe stereotypes of other groups of people.
While older methods of subtle racism are dying out, other popular methods still exist such as redistricting and removing voting locations. Another popular method of discrimination occurs in the home buying process, as minorities are historically not given loans with terms that equal their white counterparts.
Public schools are also guilty of this kind of subtle racism. Some students of color may not know how to address it, or even recognize that the actions being taken are microaggressions. For example, school dress codes often ban head wraps or doo rags, hoodies, and certain type of shoes, and they do this under the guise of protecting all children from being bullied for possibly having less or not of the same quality. Colleges face this problem, too, as they are being protested more and more to provide safe spaces for people of color.
When cultural weathering is experienced daily, it wreaks havoc on a person’s mental and bodily health. It can lead to toxic behaviors, such as heavy drinking or smoking cigarettes, in the hopes of coping with it. And with laws currently changing to continue this hurt on minorities, let’s not deny that cultural weathering has become a public health crisis.
It’s time to think about more than economic well-being. We must find ways to survive and thrive the effects of this trauma.
What do you think of the weathering effects on minorities? Share your thoughts.