Brother Be Well Wellness for Boys and Men of Color

How Racial Stress Manifests in Boys and Men of Color

Race-related stress can weigh on anyone. Boys and men of color can be significantly affected by it. Racial stress can come from a variety of sources. It can come from economic pressure, health concerns, and even social interactions.

Racial stress may manifest in black adolescents and men in many ways. If you or a loved one is suffering from this kind of pressure, this article may help you. It will show you potential root causes. You will also learn how you can enact healthy coping and resilience.


First things first, what exactly is racial stress? Race-related stress refers to stress brought on by race relations in one’s life. It ranges from interactions on the micro-level to major systemic issues on a macro level. Being a victim of racism can lead to intense emotional reactions in anyone. These may include:

  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Frustration
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Helplessness/hopelessness
  • Isolation
  • Sadness 
  • Resentment
  • Paranoia
  • Self-blame
  • Self-doubt

It’s clear why young boys and men of color need to receive support as victims of racism.


There are a plethora of sources of stress for People of Color in Western cultures. American Descendants of Slaves are living in a society built on systemic racism. There is inequity in almost every aspect of life for black boys and men:

  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Housing
  • The legal system
  • Socioeconomic and occupational inequities
  • Social interactions (this may include daily microaggressions. It also covers hate speech and even hate crimes)
  • Mental health awareness

This list can make anyone one feel overwhelmed and helpless. It is a daily stressor for young boys and men of color that can manifest in unhealthy ways. Addressing this stress can be even more difficult. The inequities in healthcare haven’t allowed for the best opportunities. These inequities also do not encourage sufferers to get help.

This article is not only important information for adolescents and men of color. Parents, spouses, and other loved ones can help play a role of love, comfort, and support for this at-risk group. Information and awareness are your biggest allies. With knowledge, you can start addressing any concerns you may have. Taking that first step is most important. You are strong. You are an overcomer. You are inspiring, and you are powerful.


This incredible amount of racial stress often raises mental health concerns. The human body can also produce severe physiological responses to it. One of the biggest problems for young black men is cardiovascular health.

Research has shown links between internalized racism and increased body mass index (BMI), increased waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), and elevated blood pressure (BP). All these symptoms manifest in young black men. All these are risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Before the age of 50, Black Americans have a heart failure rate 20 times that of White Americans. Over 40% of Black men aged 20 and older have cardiovascular disease (Lee et al., 2016). These statistics are alarming and should be of concern to every single American.

The health of our brothers, fathers, friends, loved ones, and neighbors are at risk. That’s why it’s so important to eradicate race-related stress.


There are many ways to cope with racial stress. One of the most critical aspects of getting help is knowing where and how to get it. Speaking with a doctor or psychiatrist is essential. There are many avenues and resources to help with racial stress in the lives of boys and men of color.

There are also many ways that family, friends, coworkers, and other loved ones can help. They can support an individual who is suffering from race-related stress. Take some time to speak to these individuals. Let them know you are there for them. Let them vent and be an avenue of support throughout their difficult journey. Lift them and their voice. Let them know they’re unique, important, and loved. Most importantly, it’s time for us to do all we can to end systemic racism once and for all.

Racial stress is very real and very prominent in the lives of boys and men of color. Talk with a doctor or psychiatrist. Tell them about any physical or mental health concerns you may have for yourself, a child, or a loved one. Mental and physical health can affect each other. So, it’s important that you take care of both.

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