During their lifetime, Black/African Americans have a higher likelihood of developing the diabetes mellitus metabolic disorder than other racial and ethnic groups in the United States. While research indicates that socioeconomic status, diet, and obesity factor into race disparities, the epigenetics field additionally identifies historical and contemporary racism as contributors to race disparities. This study is a qualitative analysis that examines a sample of health science research articles that use an epigenetics approach to understand diabetes among Black/African Americans. I analyzed the extent and mechanisms through which articles subtly reproduce dominant stereotypes of Black/African Americans and diabetes through representations of culture, diet, and sugar consumption, among other factors. Moreover, our analysis shows how these articles recreate new scripts that view biological differences as a product of historical and ongoing racism. The result of this analysis indicates three categories: 1) presentations of race as a social construction and racism as a cause of biological outcomes; 2) utilization of cultural perspectives that reify racial categories and point to social environments within households/neighborhoods and diet as a cause; 3) advocating for a multidisciplinary approach in medicine to foster collaborative change within minority communities. These results further emphasize the importance for sociologists and other research scholars to become more educated in the field of epigenetics. Furthermore, by becoming more educated on epigenetics, this can allow sociologists to further contribute to the field.
Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
College of Sciences
Jacobs, Eliana, "Diabetes Mellitus Among Black/African Americans: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Epigenetic Research" (2022). Honors Undergraduate Theses. 1311.