Here is what we know: Racism is bad for your health. Here is what we’re exploring: possible interventions that could help ameliorate the health impacts on people of color while the broader work to dismantle racism continues. In the first installment of this series, we explored how self-regulation, a set of teachable skills and behaviors that help us cope with stress, could be a key to reducing or eliminating the impacts of racism and discrimination. But there are other areas of research that show some potential. One such area social science researchers have explored is how racial identity, cultural connection, and conversations with kids about race might improve resiliency in the face of racism and systemic bias.
In part two, we’ll take a closer look at this research, and how a person’s relationship to their racial and ethnic community shapes their experience with discrimination. While there is still more research to do in this arena, certain behaviors and attitudes have been found to promote resilience in the face of discrimination for people of color. These findings lend themselves toward certain interventions, both on the individual and community level, that could potentially improve the health of people of color.
We should also note that any interventions regarding racial and ethnic identity are complicated by the nature of race and ethnicity itself—fluid constructs that are very much shaped by power and structure, and do not always offer individuals easy or accessible routes toward identity or connection. This can be particularly true for people with more than one racial identity or ethnicity and people who are disconnected from their communities or practices for a whole host of reasons. That said, when it comes to people who have a strong cultural connection and whose parents talk to them about race, the opportunities for intervention are clear, based on the research that is currently available.