“A Constant State of Fight-or-Flight”

“Young minorities who are more likely to experience poverty—and in turn more likely to face the cognitive development challenges laid out by science—could end up shouldering another burden, says W. Carson Byrd, assistant professor of Pan-African Studies at the University of Louisville: the assumption, based on these studies and headlines, that minority children “are less capable than their white peers.” Growing up as a poor minority in America alone does not make someone inherently more prone to brain development impacts—but the manifestations of poverty, along with how society treats poor minorities, can have an effect.Housing discrimination against minorities living in unsafe, dilapidated buildings, implicit racial bias by teachers, malnutrition, and underfunded schools in poor communities can hamper normal brain development. All of these factors combined can make learning nearly impossible and influence why African-Americans, for example, are more likely than whites to be entrapped by poverty. It’s easy to see how a sound bite about smaller brains “can end up as fuel for narrow views of social inequalities and the people that endure them in society,” Byrd says. It begins to dangerously echo racist arguments from past generations by so-called scientists who claimed that black people had smaller brain sizes and were therefore less intelligent than Europeans.” Ref

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