A growing group of scholars have been studying the health disparities between African Americans and their European American counterparts on the one hand, on the disparities between African Americans and their Caribbean and Continental American counterparts on the other. But understudied and under discussed are the various ills that Asian Americans have to deal with because of racism. Gilbert Gee, an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan has just begun to report on a groundbreaking survey analyzing Asian American health outcomes. The results shouldn't be surprising and should help to put to rest the idea of Asian Americans being "model minorities."
Gee and his team found that Filipinos reported the highest level of discrimination, followed by Chinese-Americans and those of Vietnamese descent. And everyday discrimination was found to be associated with a variety of health problems, including chronic cardiovascular, respiratory, and pain-related health trouble. Discrimination against those of Chinese descent was not linked to either pain or respiratory problems, but was associated with heart disease. In contrast, discrimination against those of Vietnamese descent was linked to cardiovascular illness, respiratory disease, and pain issues. Filipinos appeared subject to respiratory and pain difficulties, the study said. The study authors theorized that the differences among the three Asian groups might be explained, in part, by their differing historical and cultural backgrounds. But in all cases, the association between discrimination and health did not seem to be influenced by age, education level, income level, job status, language ability, or a desire to view one's life in a positive light, the researchers said. In view of the findings, the study authors suggested that efforts to bolster civil rights in the United States might not only strengthen the nation's democracy but also improve its health.