I came upon this article while completing an assignment for my freshman seminar this semester on the social determinants of health. The article discusses the effects that excessive stress has on children as a result of violence, poverty, trauma, and other forms of “prolonged adversity”. The article names this form of stress as “toxic stress syndrome” and describes how it continues to plague children across communities and affect their health and well being over time. This article specifically discusses the toxic stress experienced by children of lower socioeconomic backgrounds and how their health overall compares to that of children of high social standing.
While reading this article I couldn’t help but think back to a major theme of our class discussions these past few weeks which concerns the notion of race as a political construct. During my read of this article, I found myself asking whether racism would be considered to be one of the listed traumas that results in the formation of toxic stress syndrome in children? Not only can racism instigate deeply traumatic experiences, but it is also a persisting trauma into adulthood that unfortunately doesn’t end. I believe it would be interesting to explore the effects that racism has on children of color from all socioeconomic backgrounds and then compare the stress levels to see if there is a relationship between racial trauma and “toxic stress syndrome” that develops in children.
Another detail I found important consider that the article itself doesn’t delve deeply into is the question of who is being directly being affected by this toxic stress the most? Who lives in these communities where “prolonged adversity” is a lifestyle due to unequal distribution and access to resources? For most, the answer would be and is consistently people of color. I believe that we can see here how inequality not only distresses people of color through their economic status, but through their health status as well.