Assignment: Black Neighborhoods
Racial and ethnic neighborhood disparities. Source: Acevedo-Garcia et al. (2008).
Minorities tend to live in poorer areas (see Figure 1.4), and these disadvantaged neighborhoods are exposed to greater health hazards, including tobacco and alcohol advertisements, toxic waste incinerators, and air pollution. Tiny particles of air pollution contain more hazardous ingredients in non-white and low-income communities than in affluent white ones (Katz, 2012). The greater the concentration of Hispanics, Asians, African Americans, or poor residents in an area, the more likely it is that potentially dangerous compounds such as vanadium, nitrates, and zinc are in the mix of fine particles they breathe. In a study conducted in 2012, the group with the highest exposure to the largest number of these ingredients was Latinos, while whites generally had the lowest exposure. Economic stress within a community may exacerbate tensions between social groups, magnify workplace stressors, induce maladaptive coping behaviors such as smoking and alcohol use, and
translate into individual stress, all of which makes individuals more vulnerable to illness (e.g., depression, high blood pressure). Factors associated with living in poor neighborhoods—crime, noise, traffic, litter, crowding, and physical deterioration—also can cause stress.
Some health issues related to where one lives include the following (Cooper, 2014):
Two to three times as many fast food outlets are located in segregated black neighborhoods than in white neighborhoods of comparable socioeconomic status, contributing to higher black consumption of fatty, salty meals and in turn widening racial disparities in obesity and diabetes.
Black neighborhoods contain two to three times fewer supermarkets than comparable white neighborhoods, creating the kind of “ food deserts” that make it difficult for residents who depend on public transportation to purchase the fresh fruits and vegetables that make for a healthy diet.
Fewer African-Americans have ready access to places to work off excess weight that can gradually cause death. A study limited to New York, Maryland and North Carolina found that black neighborhoods were three times more likely to lack recreational facilities where residents could exercise and relieve stress.
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