The race against time: Lived time,time loss, and black health opportunity

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In this paper I argue that time is a social determinant of health, and one that perpetuates racial health inequalities. Specifically, Black people in the United States experience time losses across numerous domains throughout the life course, putting them at risk of disproportionate morbidity and mortality. Fundamental cause theory holds that social conditions structure health through pathways to resources including money, knowledge, power, prestige, freedom, and social networks. Racialized time indirectly harms health by disrupting or denying access to these flexible resources and by undoing utility among those that are obtained. Racialized time harms health directly when it produces stress and exacerbates conditions of racial subordination. I examine racialized time in three categories: 1) Black people spending too much time to meet basic needs; 2) Black people having less time spent on them than is required; and 3) lost years of (good quality of) life. Linkages between time and health disadvantage exist in material resources, interactions with the state, intimate lives, public space, and cognitive processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)497-514
Number of pages18
JournalDu Bois Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • African American/Black
  • Health
  • Health Disparities
  • Inequalities
  • Time


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