“Covid-19 lays bare how discrimination drives health disparities among Black people” – STAT News |
June 9, 2020 |
STAT News – The disparities have long been documented.
- Black people are more likely than white people to die from cancer.
- They are more likely to suffer from chronic pain, diabetes, and depression.
- Black children report higher levels of stress.
- Black mothers are more likely to die in childbirth.
Those findings are part of a mountain of research cataloging the complex and widespread effects that racism has on the health — and the medical care — of Black people in the U.S.
Those effects stretch back centuries and take different forms, from discriminatory diagnostics to institutional barriers to care, all of which affect a person’s health.
But while the problem has been studied for decades and improvements have been made, many disparities persist unchecked.
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The demonstrations sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis have prompted a reckoning over racism and police brutality. But, among those in the medical communities, there have also been calls for urgent action to address the role that systemic racism plays in health disparities among Black people.
“Health disparities still exist because nothing has truly changed,” said Ashley McMullen, an assistant professor of internal medicine at University of California, San Francisco.
The Covid-19 pandemic has only made those disparities — and the structural discrimination they are rooted in — all the more apparent. Black Americans have been dying at about 2.4 times the rate of white Americans. As medical anthropologist Clarence Gravlee put it in Scientific American:
“If Black people were dying at the same rate as white Americans, at least 13,000 mothers, fathers, daughters, sons and other loved ones would still be alive.”
“People of color right now are more likely to be infected, and we’re more likely to die. What we’re seeing here is the direct result of racism,” said Camara Phyllis Jones, an epidemiologist who recently served as president of the American Public Health Association. “That’s the thing that is slapping us in the face. Actually, it’s lashing us like whips.”
The systemic discrimination that has impacted Black health so inordinately dates back to the first ships carrying enslaved Africans that crossed the Atlantic … Read more.