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  • Avni Gulrajani

Book review: My thoughts on Weathering by Arline T. Geronimus

Updated: Nov 21, 2023


As someone deeply invested in the well-being of young people through my work at YouthLine Oregon and having delved into research at UCSB this past summer, Dr. Arline T. Geronimus's "Weathering" struck a deeply personal chord with me. This book, which represents the pinnacle of Geronimus's 40 years of research into racial and class injustice, resonated with my experiences and academic pursuits, offering crucial insights into the physical toll of systemic oppression.

"Weathering" explores the concept Dr. Geronimus famously coined, which has become a cornerstone in public health discussions. It refers to the physiological impact of chronic stress due to social and psychological pressures on marginalized communities, leading to premature aging and a host of health issues. This concept was a significant component of my research at UCSB, where we examined the multifaceted effects of systemic injustice on youth health and development.

In this book, Dr. Geronimus meticulously presents evidence showing how daily discrimination and systemic challenges wear people down, leading to illnesses and early mortality, particularly in Black communities. However, her findings extend beyond racial lines, touching on the lives of impoverished white communities in areas like Kentucky, mirroring the health struggles of deprived urban communities.

My time at YouthLine Oregon has brought me face-to-face with the realities of these challenges. The daily stories and struggles echo the themes presented in "Weathering." Geronimus's research sheds light on the heightened health risks arising from continuous exposure to societal neglect and stigma, which I've witnessed firsthand in my work with young people.

What sets "Weathering" apart is its blend of rigorous research with a narrative of resilience. Geronimus exposes the problem and provides hope, showcasing the positive health impacts of societal changes towards more significant equity, like the legalization of gay marriage in Massachusetts.

The book's latter part, where Geronimus outlines principles for equitable public policy, resonated deeply with my academic and professional experiences. It reinforces the idea that policies must be inclusive, considering the affected individuals' voices, and underscores the interconnectedness of our health and societal structures.

In summary, "Weathering" by Dr. Arline T. Geronimus is essential for anyone engaged in public health, social justice, or youth advocacy. It has been a beacon of understanding and a guide in my ongoing work at YouthLine Oregon and my academic endeavors. It's a powerful reminder of the tangible effects of societal inequities on health and the urgent need for systemic change.

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