Effects of gendered racism on health practices of Black women
Black women have been more likely to suffer from negative health conditions in comparison to Black men and White women. The biopsychosocial model might suggest that gendered racism and related stress may contribute to poor health, but the model has not been adapted to address the specific psychological factors that uniquely affect Black women’s health. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between gendered racism and eating and exercise practices of Black women in addition to examining racial and gender identity as potential mediators of the effects of gendered racism on health behaviors of Black women. Adult Black women (N= 153) were invited to complete measures that assessed gendered-racism experiences and stressors, racial identity (BRIAS), womanist identity (WIAS), and health behaviors. Multivariate multiple regression analyses revealed that more experiences of gendered racism were related to lower levels of emotional eating, but higher levels of uncontrolled eating and physical activity. WIAS Immersion/Emersion (idealization of women), WIAS Encounter (confusion regarding gender beliefs) and BRIAS Immersion (idealization of Black people) were significant mediators of these relationships. A post hoc canonical correlation analysis indicated that experiencing higher levels of gendered racism was related to greater use of less sophisticated racial and gender identity schemas, which were related to lower levels of emotional eating and higher levels of uncontrolled eating and physical activity. These results suggested that BRIAS and WIAS concepts should be integrated rather than treating them as separate sets of variables when investigating gendered racism. Collectively, the results of the main and post hoc analyses indicated that race and gender constructs were related to health practices, but not in explicable ways. Limitations of existing measures for studying this population are discussed and results are used to speculate about the implications of biological, psychological, and socio-cultural factors on the health engagement practices of Black women.