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How does racism 'weather' the body? Researcher who coined the term explains

Patient Kay McField talks with Dr. Janice Bacon, a primary care physician at the Community Health Care Center at Tougaloo College. (Rogelio V. Solis/AP)
Patient Kay McField talks with Dr. Janice Bacon, a primary care physician at the Community Health Care Center at Tougaloo College. (Rogelio V. Solis/AP)

In 1990, public health researcher Arline Geronimus was excoriated and shunned from the medical community after presenting her research on health outcomes for babies born to Black mothers. Her conclusion was that teenage mothers, who’d lived fewer years of racial injustices, had babies who fared better. She called the concept “weathering,” the idea that racism was chipping away at the health of marginalized groups.

Traumatized by the reaction to her work, Geronimus retreated from conferences, public appearances, and reporters, but continued her research, expanding it to other marginalized groups and publishing 130 or more papers. Now, she’s considered a leader in the field.

Her new book is “Weathering: The Extraordinary Stress of Ordinary Life in an Unjust Society,” and she joins host Robin Young.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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