African American, Latinx and Blackouts

Anumita writes about the drinking experiences of Latinx and African American students. She brings awareness on how race can influence drinking habits and gives tangible ways students can build community. 

Twenty year old Isabella Vasquez has never blacked out before. Not only does she want to preserve her physical health, but she does not want to lose control of any situation she is in. When someone loses control, they are often in a vulnerable state. This can be scary in environments where one distrusts their peers. Unfortunately, this distrust is sometimes amplified between ethnic and White communities, resulting in slightly conservative drinking habits for some racial groups. Even though Vasquez is a White passing Latina, she still feels uncomfortable amongst her White peers at parties. 

This is a common experience for many Latinx and African American students, which influences their drinking habits. According to McCabe et al., Latino and African American college students are less likely to drink in relation to “typical” student drinking norms. Out of 18,748 students assessed in a National Health Assessment, 11% were Latino, 8% were Black, and 63% were Non-hispanic White. Within these Latino and African American subgroups, around 60% and 55% had binge drank in the past, respectively. For the White subgroup, an estimated 80% had participated in binge drinking in the past. 

These differences in binge-drinking can be attributed to much deeper problems. African Americans and Latinos have been systematically oppressed in America for generations. There is a deep history of unequal treatment against these communities and they are often put into situations of no control. According to Mulia et al, African Americans and Latinos who have heavy drinking patterns are more likely to face social disadvantage. This can include higher chances of poverty, racial/ethnic stigma, and lower social statuses. 

Therefore, for some students, repeated patterns of blacking out and binge drinking are not appealing. This can be attributed to the distrust they may feel at social events and the potential consequences caused by systemic racism. So, the next time you or someone you know pressures their peers into heavy drinking, remember that everyone has different backgrounds and experiences. We all have reasons for staying sober and sometimes they come from cultural and systemic differences. 


What you can do

  • No is no; if you ask your peer to drink once and they say no, don’t ask again.
  • Don’t assume people’s experiences with alcohol and drugs. 
  • Be informed about discrimination against racial/ethnic groups and its effects on health and well-being
  • Reach out to various community centers on campus to understand racial/ethnic experiences.
  • More extensive tips



Disparities in Alcohol-related Problems among White, Black and Hispanic Americans

Does Ethnicity Moderate the Link Between Drinking Norms and Binge Drinking in College Students?


About the Author

Photo of the author

Anumita Alur is a junior majoring in Human Development with minors in Public Health and Tech Management. She is a student coordinator for the Safe Party team and hopes to pursue  public health in the future.