A new study from Yale University found that African American college aged “girls” (read: women) are less likely to develop drinking problems than white girls because of cultural and environmental factors.
The study cited parental disapproval, a more conservative attitude toward drinking and higher church attendance as reasons why there is such a stark difference between the two racial groups. The New Haven Register summarized the findings like this:
The study, published Thursday in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, focused on 3,500 female twins, both identical and fraternal, “to look at the relative contributions of genetics vs. environment on (the) age of first drink and problem drinking,” Sartor said.
What we found is that there’s no shared environmental effects” in African-American teens who abuse alcohol, Sartor said. “Family environment is not playing a role in problem drinking.” For black girls who drink heavily, genetics and individual experiences, such as different friends or traumatic events, are more relevant, she said
At a community and cultural level, European-Americans are not doing as good a job at protecting their girls from problem drinking as African-Americans are.”
Interestingly enough, this is not something we needed a study to tell us. As someone who attended a predominately white university, when girls were being carried home, throwing up in elevators or falling out in the street they were white. Not that black girls didn’t get wasted but the numbers didn’t lie.
While the study cited church and less importance placed on drinking etc, after some discussion about the issue in our office we also concluded that black people are less carefree when we go out partying. Many of us are keenly aware of the fact that if we get too intoxicated to take care of ourselves and end up causing some type of disturbance, we’re less likely to get the benefit of the doubt. We just might be interacting with the police. And if have to interact with the police that just might mean we’ll endure abuse, mistreatment or in some cases even death. If we get too drunk and end up lost or missing we know there won’t be national searches looking to ensure that we’re returned to our families safely.
It’s a sad tale; but for many of us, we don’t even leave the house on the same level of abandon or “carefreeness” that white women do. In addition to the safety issues, we know that if we’re in a mixed crowd many of us are also worried about how we’ll be perceived if people who aren’t black see us out here acting a fool.
But that’s just our theory. What are some of the reasons you think African American college-aged women drink less than white women?