Sierra Carter presentation

Sierra Carter on the importance of

understanding how racism impacts health

Carter gesturing as she speaks in front of a screen.
Dr. Carter describes her line of research studying racial trauma, accelerated aging, and the promotion of health-equity research during a presentation at UGA.

We have confronted racism in new ways in recent years, but “historically,” says Dr. Sierra Carter, “we have not had conversations about what that means for livelihood, what that means for trajectories of life.” She set about explaining why it is important to study the effects of racism on health in her presentation to faculty, staff, and students gathered at the Miller Learning Center’s Reading Room on October 12th. The presentation, entitled, “Black people deserve to grow old: Racial trauma, accelerated aging, and the Promotion of Health-Equity Related Research,” was co-sponsored by the Center for Family Research, the Owens Institute for Behavioral Research, and the departments of Human Development & Family Science and Psychology.

Carter says there has been important research in recent years on things like how racism-caused stress gets “under the skin,” some of it by people in the room she noted, but she says there is much more to do. “I think there’s still research to be done around the biological embedding of racism,” she explained. “We look at it in isolated spaces, and we don’t think about its life course impact.”

Carter’s research integrates psychology, biology, public health, and developmental science providing evidence that: (1) racism is a multi-level influence that undermines health across the lifespan and over multiple generations; (2) the existence of entrenched racism requires development of culturally-informed, prevention-oriented interventions among underrepresented populations, and (3) the deeply entrenched nature of racism requires dissemination of findings to affected populations, policymakers, as well as to fellow scholars.

Dr. Carter is an Associate Professor of Clinical and Community Psychology at Georgia State University.

Three people standing and talking.
Students lined up to talk with Carter after her presentation. Here, CFR's Steve Kogan listens to Carter talk with HDFS doctoral student Aminah Bradley-Pikes.
Three women laughing together
Carter shares a laugh after the presentation with CFR's Olive Conyers and Stacey Barnum.