American Sociological Association

Perceived Unfair Treatment by Police, Race, and Telomere Length: A Nashville Community-based Sample of Black and White Men

Police maltreatment, whether experienced personally or indirectly through one’s family or friends, represents a structurally rooted public health problem that disproportionately affects minorities. Researchers, however, know little about the physiological mechanisms connecting unfair treatment by police (UTBP) to poor health. Shortened telomeres due to exposure to this stressor represent one plausible mechanism. Using data from a community sample of black (n = 262) and white (n = 252) men residing in Nashville-Davidson County, we test four hypotheses: (1) Black men will be more likely to report UTBP than white men, (2) those reporting UTBP will have shorter telomeres than those not reporting UTBP, (3) this association will be more pronounced among black men, and (4) these hypotheses will extend to those who report vicarious UTBP. Results reveal support for all hypotheses. The implications for our findings are discussed as they pertain to debates on policing practices and health disparities research.

Authors

Michael J. McFarland, John Taylor, Cheryl A. S. McFarland, and Katherine L. Friedman

Volume

59

Issue

4

Starting Page

585

Ending Page

600