Skip to main content

THE RACE AGAINST TIME: Lived time, Time Loss, and Black Health Opportunity

  • Naa Oyo A. Kwate (a1)

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.

Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: Naa Oyo A. Kwate, Center for Race and Ethnicity, 191 College Ave., Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ, 08901. E-mail:
Hide All
Abramovitz, Mimi, and Albrecht, Jochen (2013). The Community Loss Index: A New Social Indicator. Social Service Review, 87(4): 677724.
Anderson, Elijah (2015). The White Space. Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, 1(1): 1021.
Banks, James, Marmot, Michael, Oldfield, Zoe, and Smith, James P. (2006). Disease and Disadvantage in the United States and England. JAMA, 295(17): 20372045.
Bell, Janine (2013). Hate Thy Neighbor: Move-in Violence and the Persistence of Racial Segregation in American Housing. New York: NYU Press.
Benediktsson, Mike Owen (2014). Territories of Concern: Vacant Housing and Perceived Disorder on Three Suburban Blocks. City & Community, 13(3): 191213.
Bertrand, Marianne, and Sendhil, Mullainathan (2004). Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination. American Economic Review, 94(4): 9911012.
Bielby, William T. (2012). Minority Vulnerability in Privileged Occupations: Why Do African American Financial Advisers Earn Less Than Whites in a Large Financial Services Firm? The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 639: 1332.
Bonilla-Silva, Eduardo (1996). Rethinking Racism: Toward a Structural Interpretation. American Sociological Review, 62: 465480.
Boryga, Andrew (2014). Family Time on Prison Buses. The New York Times, November 7. <> (accessed January 9, 2017).
Brewster, Zachary W., and Rusche, Sarah N. (2012). Quantitative Evidence of the Continuing Significance of Race: Tableside Racism in Full-Service Restaurants. Journal of Black Studies, 43: 893911.
Brondolo, Elizabeth, Nisha Brady ver Halen, Melissa Pencille, Danielle Beatty, and Richard J. Contrada (2009). Coping with Racism: A Selective Review of the Literature and a Theoretical and Methodological Critique. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 32(1): 6488.
Burke, Kerry, Morales, Mark, Ross, Barbara, and Otis, Ginger Adams (2013). Barneys Accused Teen of Using Fake Debit Card for $349 Belt Because He’s a ‘Young Black American Male’: Lawsuit. New York Daily News, October 22. <> (accessed December 29, 2016).
Case, Anne, and Deaton, Angus (2015). Rising Morbidity and Mortality in Midlife among White Non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st Century. PNAS, 112(49): 1507815083.
Clark, Rodney, Anderson Norman, B., Clark Vernessa, R., and Williams David, R. (1999). Racism as a Stressor for African Americans: A Biopsychosocial Model. American Psychologist, 54: 805816.
Coates, Ta-Nehisi (2015). Bewteen the World and Me. New York: Spiegel & Grau.
Corburn, Jason, Curl, Shasa, Arredondo, Gabino, and Malagon, Jonathan (2014). Health in All Urban Policy: City Services through the Prism of Health. Journal of Urban Health, 94(4): 623636.
DeVeauuse, Natasha, Kim, Kathy, Peek-Asa, Corinne, McArthur, David, and Krauss, Jess (1999). Driver Compliance with Stop Signs at Pedestrian Crosswalks on a University Campus. Journal of American College Health, 47(6): 269274.
Fernandez Robert, M., and Celina, Su (2004). Space in the Study of Labor Markets. Annual Review of Sociology, 30: 545569.
Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy (2004). State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods. New York: New York University.
Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy (2010). State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods. New York: New York University.
Galster, George, and Godfrey, Erin (2005). By Words and Deeds: Racial Steering by Real Estate Agents in the U.S. in 2000. Journal of the American Planning Association, 71(3): 251268.
Gelman, Andrew, Fagan, Jeffrey, and Kiss, Alex (2007). An Analysis of the New York City Police Department’s “Stop- and-Frisk” Policy in the Context of Claims of Racial Bias. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 102(479): 813823.
Geronimus, Arline T. (2001). Understanding and Eliminating Racial Inequalities in Women’s Health in the United States: The Role of the Weathering Conceptual Framework. Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association, 56(4): 133136.
Geronimus, Arline T., Hicken, Margaret T., Pearson, Jay A., Seashols, Sarah J., Brown, Kelly L., and Cruz, Tracey Dawson (2010). Do Us Black Women Eperience Stress-Related Accelerated Biological Aging? Human Nature, 21: 1938.
Goddard, Tara, Barsamian Kahn, Kimberly, and Adkins, Arlie (2015). Racial Bias in Driver Yielding Behavior at Crosswalks. Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 33: 16.
Gonzalez Van Cleve, Nicole (2016). Crook County: Racism and Injustice in America’s Largest Criminal Court. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.
Greene, Jessica, Blustein, Jan, and Weitzman, Beth C. (2006). Race, Segregation, and Physicians’ Participation in Medicaid. Milbank Quarterly, 84(2): 239272.
Hakkert, A. Shalom, Gitelman, Victoria, and Ben-Shabat, Eliah (2002). An Evaluation of Crosswalk Warning Systems: Effects on Pedestrian and Vehicle Behaviour. Transportation Research Part F, 5: 275292.
Hanchard, Michael (1999). Afro-Modernity: Temporality, Politics, and the African Diaspora. Public Culture, 11(1): 245268.
Hannon, Lance, DeFina, Robert, and Bruch, Sarah (2013). The Relationship between Skin Tone and School Suspension for African Americans. Race and Social Problems, 5: 281295.
Harrell, W. Andrew (2001). The Impact of Pedestrian Visibility and Assertiveness on Motorist Yielding. The Journal of Social Psychology, 133(3): 353360.
Harris, David A. (2013). Across the Hudson: Taking the Stop and Frisk Debate Beyond New York City. Legislation and Public Policy, 16: 853882.
Hellig, Amy, and Sawicki, David S. (2003). Race and Residential Accessibility to Shopping and Services. Housing Policy Debate, 14(1 and 2): 69101.
Hirschl, Thomas A., and Rank, Mark R. (2010). Homeownership across the American Life Course: Estimating the Racial Divide. Race and Social Problems, 2: 125136.
Holland, Sharon P. (2012). The Erotic Life of Racism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Hu, Winnie, and Schwencke, Ken (2015). Dangerous passage and multiplying fines as ice is left uncleared. The New York Times, March 3. <> (accessed December 29, 2016).
Jackson, James S., Knight, Katherine M., and Rafferty, Jane A. (2010). Race and Unhealthy Behaviors: Chronic Stress, the Hpa Axis, and Physical and Mental Health Disparities over the Life Course. American Journal of Public Health, 100(5): 933939.
Katz, Josh (2015). How Nonemployed Americans Spend Their Weekdays: Men vs. Women. The New York Times, January 6. <> (accessed December 29, 2016).
Krieger, Nancy (1999). Embodying Inequality: A Review of Concepts, Measures, and Methods for Studying Health Consequences of Discrimination. International Journal of Health Services, 29(2): 295352.
Krieger, Nancy (2001). Theories for Social Epidemiology in the 21st Century: An Ecosocial Perspective. International Journal of Epidemiology, 30: 668677.
Krieger, Nancy, Kosheleva, Anna, Waterman, Pamela D., Chen, Jarvis T., and Koenen, Karestan (2011). Racial Discrimination, Psychological Distress, and Self-Reated Health among US-Born and Foreign-Born Black Americans. American Journal of Public Health, 101(9): 17041713.
Krysan, Maria (2008). Does Race Matter in the Search for Housing? An Exploratory Study of Search Strategies, Experiences, and Locations. Social Science Research, 37(2): 581603.
Kwate, Naa Oyo A., and Goodman, Melody S. (2015). Racism at the Intersections: Gender and Socioeconomic Differences in the Experience of Racism among African Americans. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 85(5): 397408.
Kwate, Naa Oyo A., Goodman, Melody S., Jackson, Jerrod, and Harris, Julen (2013a). Spatial and Racial Patterning of Real Estate Broker Listings in New York City. The Review of Black Political Economy, 40(4): 401424.
Kwate, Naa Oyo A., Loh, J. M., White, K., and Saldana, N. T. (2013b). Retail Redlining in New York City: Racialized Access to Day-to-Day Retail Resources. Journal of Urban Health, 90(4): 632652.
Laitner, Bill (2015). Heart and Sole: Detroiter Walks 21 miles in Work Commute. Detroit Free Press, February 10. <> (accessed December 29, 2016).
Lewis, Tene T., Cogburn, Courtney D., and Williams, David R. (2015). Self-Reported Experiences of Discrimination and Health: Scientific Advances, Ongoing Controversies, and Emerging Issues. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 11: 407440.
Link, Bruce G., and Phelan, Jo (1995). Social Conditions as Fundamental Causes of Disease. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 36: 8094.
Lipsitz, George (2011). How Racism Takes Place. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.
Losen, Daniel J., and Skiba, Russell J. (2010). Suspended Education: Urban Middle Schools in Crisis. Los Angeles, CA: The Civil Rights Project.
Mallozzi, Vincent M. (2005). On the Outside, Busing in. The New York Times, May 20. <> (accessed December 29, 2016).
Marmot, Michael (2006). Health in an Unequal World. The Lancet, 368: 20812094.
Mays, Vickie M., Cochran, Susan D., and Barnes, Namdi W. (2007). Race, Race-Based Discrimination, and Health Outcomes among African Americans. Annual Review of Psychology, 58: 201225.
Mezuk, Briana, Rafferty, Jane A., Kershaw, Kiarri N., Hudson, Darrell, Abdou, Cleopatra M., Lee, Hedwig, Eaton, William W., and Jackson, James S. (2010). Reconsidering the Role of Social Disadvantage in Physical and Mental Health: Stressful Life Events, Health Behaviors, Race and Depression. American Journal of Epidemiology, 172(11): 12381249.
Miller, Claire C. (2015). Stressed, Tired, Rushed: A Portrait of the Modern Family. The New York Times, November 4. <> (accessed December 29, 2016).
Miller, Lisa L. (2015). What’s Violence Got to Do with It? Inequality, Punishment, and State Failure in Us Politics. Punishment & Society, 17(2): 184210.
Mills, Charles W. (2014). White Time: The Chronic Injustice of Ideal Theory. Du Bois Review, 11(1): 2742.
Moore, Tina, and Adams, Ginger (2013). Another Black Barneys Shopper Accused of Credit Card Fraud After Buying $2,5000 Purse: Claim. New York Daily News, October 23. <> (accessed December 29, 2016).
Natapoff, Alexandra (2006). Underenforcement. Fordham Law Review, 75: 17151775.
National Center for Health Statistics (2012). Health, United States, 2012: With Special Feature on Emergency Care. Hyattsvile, MD.
National Center for Health Statistics (2013). Detailed Tables: “Deaths: Final Data for 2013.” Hyattsville, MD.
National Fair Housing Alliance (2015). Supplemental Narrative in Support of Fair Housing Complaint. Washington, DC.
New York Civil Liberties Union (2012). Stop-and-Frisk 2011 Report. <> (accessed December 29, 2016).
Pager, Devah (2003). The Mark of a Criminal Record. American Journal of Sociology, 5: 937975.
Pager, Devah, and Shepherd, Hana (2008). The Sociology of Discrimination: Racial Discrimination in Employment, Housing, Credit, and Consumer Markets. Annual Review of Sociology, 34: 181209.
Paradies, Yin (2006). A Systematic Review of Empirical Research on Self-Reported Racism and Health. International Journal of Epidemiology, 35: 888901.
Pascoe, Elizabeth A., and Richman, Laura Smart (2009). Perceived Discrimination and Health: A Meta-Analytic Review. Psychological Bulletin, 135(4): 531554.
Pattillo, Mary (2015). Everyday Politics of School Choice in the Black Community. Du Bois Review, 12(1): 4171.
Pearson, Jay A. (2008). Can’t Buy Me Whiteness: New Lessons from the Titanic on Race, Ethnicity, and Health. Du Bois Review, 5(1): 2748.
Petty, Audrey (2013). High Rise Stories: Voices from Chicago Public Housing. San Francisco, CA: Voice of Witness & McSweeny’s Books.
Pew Research Center (2011). Twenty-to-One: Wealth gaps rise to record highs between Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center. <> (accessed December 29, 2016).
Phelan, J. C., and Link, B. G. (2015). Is Racism a Fundamental Cause of Inequalities in Health? Annual Review of Sociology, 41: 311330.
Phillips, Sandra (2010). The Subprime Crisis and Afriacn Americans. Review of Black Political Economy, 37: 223229.
Piff, Paul K., Stancato, Daniel M., Côté, Stephane, Mendoza-Denton, Rodolfo, and Keltner, Dacher (2012). Higher Social Class Predicts Increased Unethical Behavior. PNAS, 109(11): 40864091.
Prison, Talk. Flamboyant / Prison Gap Bus Services Info and Experiences (blog). <> (accessed September 15, 2015).
Prison, Talk. Prison Gap Bus Service (blog). <> (accessed September 15, 2015).
Roscigno, V. J., Karafin, D. L., and Tester, G. (2009). The Complexities and Processes of Racial Housing Discrimination. Social Problems, 56(1): 4969.
Rothstein, Richard (2014). The Making of Ferguson: Public Policies at the Root of Its Troubles. Washington, DC: Economic Policy Institute.
Rugh, Jacob S., Albright, Len, and Massey, Douglas S. (2015). Race, Space, and Cumulative Disadvantage: A Case Study of the Subprime Lending Collapse. Social Problems, 62: 186218.
Rugh, Jacob S., and Massey, Douglas S. (2010). Racial Segregation and the American Foreclosure Crisis. American Sociological Review, 75(5): 629651.
Santora, Marc (2014). Barneys Agrees to Pay $525,000 in Racial Profiling Inquiry. The New York Times, August 11. <–to-settle-racial-profiling-suit.html> (accessed December 29, 2016).
Satter, Beryl (2009). Family Properties: Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban America. New York: Metropolitan Books.
Schreer, George E., Smith, Saundra, and Thomas, Kirsten (2009). “Shopping While Black”: Examining Racial Discrimination in a Retail Setting. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 39(6): 14321444.
Shavers, Vickie L., and Shavers, Brenda S. (2006). Racism and Health Inequity among Americans. Journal of the National Medical Association, 98(3): 386396.
Small, Mario L., and McDermott, Monica (2006). The Presence of Organizational Resources in Poor Urban Neighborhoods: An Analysis of Average and Contextual Effects. Social Forces, 84(3): 16971724.
Squires, Gregory D., Friedman, Samantha, and Saidat, Catherine E. (2002). Experiencing Residential Segregation: A Contemporary Study of Washington, D.C. Urban Affairs Review, 38(2): 155183.
Steele, Claude M. (2010). Whistling Vivaldi and Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us. New York: W.W. Norton.
Stepansky, Joe, McShane, Larry, and Sheftell, Jason (2013). Actor Forest Whitaker Gets Stopped and Frisked Leaving Morningside Heights Deli. New York Daily News, February 16. <> (accessed December 29, 2016).
Subramanian, S. V., Acevedo-Garcia, Dolores, and Osypuk, Theresa L. (2005). Racial Residential Segregation and Geographic Heterogeneity in Black/White Disparity in Poor Self-Rated Health in the US: A Multilevel Statistical Analysis. Social Science & Medicine, 60(8): 16671679.
Threadcraft, Shatema (2015). Intimate Injustice, Political Obligation, and the Dark Ghetto. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 39(31): 735760.
Tighe, J. Rosie, and Ganning, Joanna P. (2015). The Divergent City: Unequal and Uneven Development in St. Louis. Urban Geography, 36(5): 654673.
Turner, Margery A., and Ross, Stephen L. (2005). How Racial Discrimination Affects the Search for Housing. In Briggs, Xavier de Souza (Ed.), The Geography of Opportunity: Race and Housing Choice in Metropolitan America, pp. 81100. Washington, DC: Brookings.
U.S. Department of Education (2011). Civil Rights Data Collection, New York City Public Schools, New York, NY. Lea Summary of Selected Facts.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2009). Child Welfare Outcomes 2006–2009: Report to Congress.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2013). Data Brief 2013–1: Recent Demographic Trends in Foster Care.
Vergara, Camilo J. (2003). American Ruins. New York: Monacelli Press.
Wajcman, Judy (2015). Pressed for Time: The Acceleration of Life in Digital Capitalism. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Wallace, Deborah, and Wallace, Roderick (1998). A Plague on Your Houses: How New York Was Burned Down and National Public Health Crumbled. New York: Verso.
Williams, David R., and Collins, Chiquita (2001). Racial Residential Segregation: A Fundamental Cause of Racial Disparities in Health. Public Health Reports, 116: 404416.
Williams, David R., and Mohammed, Selina A. (2008). Discrimination and Racial Disparities in Health: Evidence and Needed Research. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 32(1): 2047.
Williams, David R., and Williams-Morris, Ruth (2000). Racism and Mental Health: The African American Experience. Ethnicity and Health, 5(3/4): 243268.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race
  • ISSN: 1742-058X
  • EISSN: 1742-0598
  • URL: /core/journals/du-bois-review-social-science-research-on-race
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed