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Studies show racism can impact work, school and even health

Illinois Schools Survey
Posted at 5:21 AM, Feb 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-16 09:52:06-05

Communities of color are facing barriers in their daily lives, but now there is work being done to eliminate the things that divide us. Eric Bailey, President and CEO of Bailey Strategic Innovation Group, works to help companies learn more about the importance of diversity and inclusion.

"That's one of the things that I've been doing a lot of work with is helping people realize that not having the answer is not a reason to not enter the conversation," Bailey said.

Bailey believes that systemic racism in the workplace can have an impact on employees of color. He says it can cause stress and other health-related issues that prevent these employees from doing their jobs to the best of their ability.

"There are a lot of things. A lot of microaggressions, a lot of micro-racist comments, or thoughts or behaviors that folks are dealing with and have acclimated to them, right? They let them wash over them," Bailey said.

Racism not only impacts adults in the workplace, but also children in the classroom. Roy Dawson, Executive Director of the Arizona Center for African American Resources, believes it is important to have more teachers of color in the classroom.

"Race matters in education. And so when you are in Arizona, our children can go from pre-K through college and never see an African American teacher, or never had one in the class. That says a lot about how you think about who you are and that is another issue associated with well-being," said Dawson.

New research also shows experiencing racism can impact the way a person's brain functions, leading to health issues like memory loss.

Lynn Rosenberg, a professor and researcher at Boston University, helped facilitate a study on African American women. Rosenberg now hopes her work will encourage other researchers to take a closer look at the negative effects of racism.

"We can only hope that after the evidence keeps building that there'll be more awareness of this, not just in the medical community, but among politicians and voters and so on," said Rosenberg.

Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley and Barbara Lee have introduced the Anti-Racism in Public Health Act, which, if approved by Congress, would create new programs within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to break down structural racism in healthcare and law enforcement.