Stress via socioeconomic status and race

Stress via socioeconomic status and race

When someone says stress, us college kids have no reaction because stress is a normal thing that is built into our lives. As much as we feel like we literally are stress, the noun, we do not suffer much compared to a lot of people. In discussion we learned about the immense levels of stress that people of lower socioeconomic status have to deal with whether it be the neighborhood they live in is unsafe or being uncertain about how one will put food on the table.


Being in a lower socioeconomic status comes with its own stressors, so people apart of this community that also have to deal with racism have an even more dramatic health deficits than those who do not. Not only do they have to worry about struggling financially and all that comes with that, but they have  to worry about how others around them are perceiving them and deal with being judged by nothing other than the color of their skin.


We have all seen the news articles with the headlines about people of African American descent being unrightfully shot by a Caucasian police officer, or someone being assaulted for wearing a headscarf and someone assuming they are a terrorist when it means nothing other than religious and cultural purposes. We have seen first hand racism right here at U of M where everyone is suppose to be open minded and accepting. In lower income areas, this is emphasized and the repercussions for it are limited.


My question for all of you is what are some additional stressors that racism might impose?

12 thoughts on “Stress via socioeconomic status and race

  1. It was interesting to see the connection between stress in lower income areas and the health consequences that come as a result of this. It makes sense too because stress isn’t simply a mind burden it also effects the body a lot and living through that struggle all the time will most likely take a toll after a while. I agree that their most significant cause of stress comes financially because every day is a new day to feed your family and yourself and pay whatever bills you have to keep living where you are etc. I do not however, agree that the stress of racism in theses areas lead to significant health problems. Personally I believe that people in these areas have a lot more to worry about than stress over that. Perhaps it leads to minimal stress especially after seeing one of those occurrences Kalie mentioned in the news, but I do not think that is an ongoing priority for them to stress over.

    In terms of other stressors that racism might impose, I only think that is a problem in an area that just had a national tragedy occur and people are scared right after. This was evident in Ferguson, Baltimore, and Chicago during the riots. It is understandable to be in a state of fear after such tragedy, but eventually as things simmer down, people have to prioritize their worries back to finances, family, and other everyday occurrences.

  2. Racism can place many stressors on African American individuals. People who are marginalized in a population are not able to strive at their full potential when society is weighing them down. Racism really focuses in on a person and makes them feel like they are not good enough. This alone can prevent them from seeing the good aspects they have within themselves. Constantly being looked down upon is a being stressor for people. No one wants to live in a society that makes them feel unwelcome. This stressor happens everyday in cities all around America.

  3. Hey Kalie,
    I completely agree with everything that you wrote. Being in a lower socioeconomic level does come with some stress. All the reasons you mentioned that some people are in, I also agree. Some additional stressors that racism might impose are basically anything. To be honest, in a society like today, a society in which all should be equally treated, racism still exists. Headline news will label all Muslims as terrorists, if a Muslim happens to commit a shooting crime. African Americans are another marginalized group that receive a lot of stereotypes. People of black skin are just like people of any other skin type. Both can have people that consist of beautiful people inside and out, and also both can have people that commit crimes and deserve to be punished; however, an ethnic/racial group as a whole should not be labeled for the acts of an individual. Racism should not exist in a world that should be so advanced in terms of logic and common sense that equality should exist between everyone: No one person is better than another.

  4. The hardest thing about stress is trying to control it. College students are stressed due to their classes, but there are a number of ways for them to deal with it. There are student organizations, months of breaks, and student help services that all help to deal with stress. People of lower economic status have more trouble dealing with stress. They have trouble obtaining the bare necessities of life. When people can’t afford food, there isn’t an easy way to avoid that stress. It is a stress that follows them every moment of their lives. People who experience racism have a similar amount of stress. These people have to feel for their well being when they are both inside and outside their house. They can be afraid of their own governments, neighbors, and even strangers on the internet that threaten them. Their stress has nothing to do with any choices they made, so it isn’t even up to them to be able to control.

  5. I agree with all of the points you mentioned and think one area where racism can add stress or negatively affect people’s mental health in some other way is self esteem. Even if people obviously are not racist against themselves being exposed to racism as a minority can be very damaging to people’s self esteem especially as children. Racism also can make it more difficult to find opportunities to leave a low socioeconomic position preventing people from reducing the amount of stress they are under.

  6. I like how you point out that stress for college students is a part of everyday life and that we are stressed all the time. However, the stress that we are feeling is a totally different kind of stress than someone might feel if they have a job they cannot control many aspects of, or if they have to worry about food. I think it can be very hard for us to realize that people are struggling with food or housing when we have not had to worry about that.
    I think some other stressors that people might have to face would be stress about racism at work. If they work in a place where they do not feel entirely comfortable or feel like they are being targeted, then they would never get a break from this chronic stress. That could take a large toll on their health as we saw in the video this week. Something from the video that goes along with this was when the doctor was talking about how he faces discrimination at work and that, even though he is a respected doctor, he said that people are still wary of him and secure their personal belongings when he walks by. It is very surprising to me that someone so respected can still face racial discrimination on a day-to-day basis.

  7. Kalie you said exactly what I was thinking! I think lot of college age students think that stress is simply studying for an exam or having a due date looming over your head, but stress is so ingrained in some people’s lives that that level of stress is hard for many of us to comprehend. I often find myself stressed about not having enough dining dollars to buy stupid amounts of food at Victors late at night, but some people are faced with the stress not having enough money to feed their family every single day. I think when we look at stress in a comparative manner like this, we can really see how easily people’s health can be negatively by this chronic stress.

  8. I like how you started off pointing out what stress is to college students like us and then relating it to people that go through stress that has a huge negative impact on there health, like people in low SES and people who get discriminated. I agree with everything you wrote about people in lower socioeconomic statuses having additional stress because of the stressors that a low SES gives. Many aspects of people lives are impacted by the stress of being in a low SES. Naturally, resources are limited from living in a low SES, which can cause negative effects in ones like. I also think it is very important to point out how racism poses its own stressors. In a society, where institutionalized, and interpersonal racism is still prevailing, individuals that want to strive, cannot reach their full potential due to this racism. Racism can also cause individual/internal racism, which means when one holds negative thoughts about ones race/culture/etc. This stressor affects the self-esteem of people that are exposed to racism.

  9. The connection between stress and living with a lower social economic status is clearly correlated. The effects of kids at a young age will transfer into long terms health problems. The thing that hit home with me the most in your post was how you correlated this concept to us as college kids. Undergoing these amounts of stress now may affect each of us in years that will come. It is easy to get caught up in the bad things that are happening such as a due date coming ahead or just everyday life encounters. Some additional stressors that racism can impose are learning other people’s cultures and understanding what matters to them and how others communicate.

  10. Hi Kalie. The unfortunate alchemy of poverty and racism combine to negatively affect the health low SES African Americans. This is known to us. However, I was surprised to learn that even at higher SES levels, African Americans still have gaps in health and life expectancy when compared to high SES whites. I believe that even though poverty might not be in the mix, racism still is, and it still acts as a negative stressor for African Americans. Racism is just as pronounced for richer blacks as it is for poorer blacks. It can come in the form of direct, obvious racism, or more often subtle forms such as being expected to be the ambassador for an entire race in a mostly white workplace. Despite having more access to resources, higher SES African Americans still have worse health outcomes because of the additional stress placed on them for daring to succeed in a world that still discriminates. In order to reduce health disparities, we must combat both poverty and racism, or disparate health outcomes will continue to persist across all SES levels.

  11. I think you made a lot of important points and connections regarding stress in your blogpost. I think college is a very interesting scenario to analyze the issue of stress in though. Your comment about how stress is built into our living is frighteningly accurate, and that applies to virtually everyone on campus, regardless of economic or social background. However, as you said, and I think is very important to remember that the types and level of stress do vary, often due to reasons outside a person’s control. It is one thing to be particularly stressed because you are taking eighteen credits and also are involved in three student organizations. That is a scenario that that person chose. Depending upon one’s situation though, a person might have to take on a heavy course load and then also add a part time job and have family obligations, while also possibly dealing with other stress causes, such as racial or sexual discrimination. Therefore, it is definitely important to consider a lot of factors into a person’s stress and whether or not they have sufficient resources to manage their stress levels.

  12. I totally agree with everything you wrote here. (TMI alert) My race has never caused me stress like other races may experience and for that I feel very fortunate, but I have experienced stress coming from a family with an extremely low SES. I was always taught to look as though we aren’t in the financial situation we are, and so I did. But that brought stress of its own because I was constantly worried about my appearance. Another thing that caused me stress was working a 30 hour a week job starting from the age of 16 to now. I have never known anything other than that, but I always found myself so resentful as I listened to my classmates and friends talk about the things their parents pay for and complain while I was working in order to put food in my own mouth. That being said, this was a stressor that was out of my control and for the most part out of the control of those around me. Racism is a stressor that can be controlled by the perpetrator, but the victim cannot work like I did to get themselves out of that situation. Race is something they have to live with, and who are we (by we I mean those of us not included in the races being targeted) to judge and treat others differently simply because of a skin color and provide them with a stressor they cannot control?

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