In These Times: The chronic stress caused by racism and sexism is killing Black women

For several months last year, I worked diligently to write a longer piece on potential solutions to the chronic stress that impacts Black women — most notably discussed in the context of Black maternal morbidity and mortality. I was astounded to learn that Black mothers in New York City are six times as likely to die from complications from childbirth as their white counterparts and that throughout the U.S. that number is three to four times as likely.

I read a lot of literature and journalism that pointed to the impact of something called allostatic load — for U.S. born Black women and even African immigrants new to this country — which is essentially our bodies breaking down from the wear and tear of racism and sexism. Basically our bodies can’t handle the onslaught of microaggressions, aggressions-aggressions and being in a state of hypervigilance all the time before the protective aspects of our immune system begin to fall apart or contribute to weathering.

If you are a Black woman or you know and love a Black woman, I think these are things that are evident but they’re still tough to know how to handle, or process. I wrote a piece with that in mind that’s up at In These Times now. I’d love to hear your thoughts and/or experiences with some of what’s raised in the piece, particularly around repressing anger.


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