Mainstream social epidemiology now acknowledges the contributions of interpersonal racism, racialized stress, and implicit bias to population health inequity. It also increasingly recognizes that current and historical racist policies place barriers in the way of healthy lifestyles by institutionalizing food deserts, housing decay, and austerity urbanism. Essential as these developments are, they only skim the surface of how insidiously structural racism establishes and reproduces population health inequity. I coined the term “weathering” to describe the effects of sustained cultural oppression upon the body. Weathering expands on the more conventional “social determinants of health” approach to understand the contextually fluctuating and historically structured and situated material, environmental and biopsychosocial stressors that wear-out the health of oppressed populations and shape their high effort coping strategies. I call this process “weathering” because that word is a contronym: Weathering can be a sign of deterioration and erosion as in “the rock was weathering;” and weathering can also be the opposite: A sign of strength and endurance as in “the family is weathering the recession.” For health and aging, it can be both.
Arline T. Geronimus,
Weathering the Pandemic: Dying Old at a Young Age from Pre-Existing Racist Conditions,
27 Wash. & Lee J. Civ. Rts. & Soc. Just. 409
Available at: https://scholarlycommons.law.wlu.edu/crsj/vol27/iss2/5