During her last undergraduate semester at Duke, Aasha Henderson worked with colleagues in Sociology and Nursing to examine health outcomes in a Latinx community. Her independent study paper compared how recent Latinx immigrants to North Carolina categorized themselves into racial groups (self-reported race) to how they believed other Americans would perceive their race when they walked down a street (street race). When given the U.S. Census categories, most research participants self-reported that they did not know their race. In sharp contrast, only 1% of participants identified their street race as unknown. Over half reported their street race as Hispanic and another quarter said people perceived them as Mexican.
Next, Henderson assessed the relationship between self-reported and street race, acculturation stress, and health outcomes. There were no significant differences between street race, physical health, mental health, or acculturation stress. However, Latinx immigrants who did not self-report their race experienced worse physical and mental health and reported higher immigration stress.
Henderson and colleagues published their work in Race and Social Problems this summer. They highlight challenges of measuring race among Latinx immigrant communities and the nuanced ways ethnic identities shape people’s daily experiences and health outcomes.
Henderson is now enrolled as a medical student at Morehouse School of Medicine and recently completed an Nth Dimensions summer internship at UC Davis Health.