Racism, Health, and Post-Industrialism: A Theory of African-American Health

Racism, Health, and Post-Industrialism: A Theory of African-American Health

Racism, Health, and Post-Industrialism: A Theory of African-American Health

Racism, Health, and Post-Industrialism: A Theory of African-American Health

Synopsis

Historical, sociological, and ecological analyses reveal that the health of a people is broadly determined by the strength, resilience, and vitality of their culture. The destructive effects of oppression and exploitation on health linger and are difficult to transcend when systemic attacks on the institutional stability of a people persist. Normative cultural destabilization produces added and abnormal challenges to the health status of African Americans. The pursuit of health becomes both a goal and a tool of liberation. Better health builds and releases mental, physical, and spiritual energy that can be directed toward achieving empowerment and development. The process of self-consciously pursuing better health attacks the fundamental mechanisms of cultural exploitation and oppression by serving to dismantle colonial-like relationships of dependency.

Excerpt

The fundamental relations of race that contributed to a negative ecology of health for African Americans remained unchanged in the post-slavery period. European initiatives to dominate and exploit new lands using African labor had already transformed institutional and cultural processes among Africans in America in such a way that their status became tied to the vagaries of European American economic designs. African lives were also subject to harsh realities and stressful uncertainties stimulated by wide variations in European racialist thinking. This thinking was largely couched in religious ideology but was expressed later in pseudoscientific theories that were intended to make inferior Africans and people of African descent. This is not to say that African-American lives were totally controlled by White enclaves of power and their subordinates; however, the tendency to perpetuate powerlessness and dependency among Blacks as a class was routine and pervasive.

The beginning of economic dislocation

Chattel slavery connected African lives to European American economic goals, but emancipation brought new forms of misery and increasing economic dislocation. For African Americans, the later part of the nineteenth century brought distinctively new challenges because of the way in which White elites sought to extract wealth from the environment. the political, economic, and cultural interests of emerging industrial elites in the Northeast were to clash with the political, economic, and cultural interests of a southern, landowning aristocracy. the result was a civil war that marked triumphant movement toward dominance by an industrial . . .

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