NIH Health Disparities Seminar Series – May 2014

The National Institutes of Health welcomes Dr. Kris Marsh and Dr. Rashawn Ray as the speakers for the NIH Health Disparities Seminar Series on May 15, 2014. Dr. Marsh and Dr. Ray will examine the topic of “Forging a Research Program on the Health of the Black Middle Class.”

The effect of race has been documented in the areas of mobility and income and wealth attainment, as well as in the daily life of middle-class blacks, who experience continued residential segregation, and discrimination in public accommodations and public spaces. Researchers have found that, in spite of having attained success in objective terms—represented by a college or advanced degree and a middle-class job—most likely the majority of middle-class blacks experience some degree of anger, frustration, hurt, or anxiety. There is a need for additional research on this population, including psychological well-being in the face of experiences of discrimination and black middle-class single households. Today an increasing percentage of households, especially in the black community, are comprised of never-married singles who live alone. A significant portion of these households are middle class.

In their presentations, Dr. Kris Marsh and Dr. Rashawn Ray will provide an overview of a research agenda centered on psychological distress, physical activity, and aging among the black middle class. Using U.S. census and national data, as well as a unique data set on middle-class blacks and whites, they will document how health disparities among the middle class are very much centered on the experiences of black women. They will focus on how the stigma of being single affects the mental health and wealth decisions of middle-class black women as they age and show how the structure of neighborhoods and the social construction of bodies are privileged to support other raced and gendered groups leading to lower levels of physical activity and higher levels of obesity among middle-class black women. Drawing upon the intersectionality framework, they will discuss how the interactive effect of race and gender can be costly for middle-class black women. (Click here for abstract)

Dr. Marsh is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park, and affiliate faculty of the Maryland Population Research Center, Department of Women's Studies, and African American Studies Department. Previously, she was a postdoctoral scholar at the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina. Dr. Marsh has combined her interests of the black middle class, demography, racial residential segregation, and education to develop a research agenda. This agenda is divided into three broad areas: the black middle class, the intersection of educational attainment and racial identification, and intra-racial health disparities. The common theme in her work is decomposing what it means to be black in America by focusing on intra-group variability in class, space, identity and educational achievement. Dr. Marsh has published work on the demographic shift in the black middle class with the emergence of single and living alone (SALA) households and the residential segregation patterns and trends of black and white SALA households. She received a doctoral degree from the University of Southern California.

Dr. Ray is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park. Previously, he was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley/University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Ray’s research addresses the mechanisms that manufacture and maintain racial and social inequality. His work also speaks to ways that inequality may be attenuated through racial uplift activism and social policy. Dr. Ray is the editor of Race and Ethnic Relations in the Twenty-first Century: History, Theory, Institutions, and Policy. His work has appeared in Ethnic and Racial Studies, American Behavioral Scientist, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Journal of Higher Education, and Journal of African American Studies. He received a doctoral degree in sociology from Indiana University.

Presentation Title:

Forging a Research Program on the Health of the Black Middle Class

Guest Speakers:

Kris Marsh, PhD (Click here for bio)

Assistant Professor of Sociology

University of Maryland

College Park, MD

Rashawn Ray, PhD (Click here for bio)

Assistant Professor of Sociology

University of Maryland

College Park, MD


Thursday, May 15, 2014

3:00 - 4:30 P.M.

Seminar Video Recording:

Click here to view May's video recorded seminar.


NIH Campus

Natcher Conference Center, Building 45, Conference Rooms E1 & E2

45 Center Drive

Bethesda, MD

Additional Information:

There is limited parking on the NIH campus. The closest Metro is Medical Center. Please allow adequate time for security check. The seminar will be video cast and made available in the NIH Video archives and on the NIMHD website after the seminar. Sign language interpreters will be provided. Individuals with disabilities who need reasonable accommodation to participate should contact Edgar Dews at (301) 402-1366 or the Federal Relay at 1-800-877-8339.