Considerable research documents higher levels of depressive symptoms among Black Americans relative to whites. Yet, we know little about the role of other dimensions of race (e.g., skin tone) and early life contexts (e.g., childhood racial contexts) in shaping trajectories of depressive symptoms across adolescence and adulthood. This study asks: 1) to what extent do self-identified race and skin tone shape disparities in depressive symptoms between Black and white adults across ages 12-42? 2) Do the relationships between race/skin tone and depressive symptoms depend on school racial context, as measured by the racial composition of middle and high schools? This study uses five waves of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health and employs growth curve models to address these questions. Overall, results suggest that trajectories of depressive symptoms across ages 12-42 vary by race and skin tone among Black adults. Further, racial and skin tone disparities in depressive symptom trajectories are contingent on school racial context, highlighting competing advantages and disadvantages of navigating majority spaces in early life for Black adults of different skin tones. Findings and implications will be discussed in more detail.
Friday October 8th, 2021