Racial Context and Health Behaviors Among Black Immigrants

Academic Article


  • Testing the Racial Context Hypothesis (Read and Emerson 2005), we examine the relationship between racial context of origin and three health behaviors (smoking, drinking, and physical activity) among Black immigrants in the USA. We conduct multinomial logistic regression analyses using data from the 2000–2019 National Health Interview Survey (N = 248,401) to determine if racial context of origin is a mechanism of health differential between Black immigrants and US-born Black Americans. Supporting the Racial Context Hypothesis, we find that Black immigrants from racially mixed (Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, South America) and majority-Black contexts (Africa) are significantly less likely to be current or former smokers and drinkers than US-born Black Americans. Black immigrants from majority-white (Europe) contexts, on the other hand, look more similar to US-born Black Americans — again supporting the premise that racial context of origin is consequential for health. After controlling for a host of covariates, Black immigrants do not significantly differ from US-born Black Americans in exercise status. Together, these findings suggest that the impacts of racism and white supremacy have lasting effects on people of color, where Black immigrants from majority-white contexts exhibit worse health behaviors than their counterparts from majority-Black and racially mixed regions.
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    Author List

  • Miller GH; Marquez-Velarde G; Emoruwa OT; Jones NE; Ma G; Keith VM; Elufisan GI; Hernandez SM