The CDC recognizes racism as a serious threat to the public’s health. Racism continues to be a major social determinant of health--built into everything that affects a person’s wellbeing: where they can live, work, go to school; how the city and police treat their neighborhood; how they can get around; if they can see a doctor or a dentist; what they have to eat. It all adds up.
And from Anarcha, Lucy and Betsey to Tuskegee to forced sterilizations to Serena Williams to COVID and beyond, anti-Black racism in health care has a deadly and dehumanizing living legacy. Racism in healthcare is both historical and ongoing. It is systemic and individual--especially in Black patients’ interactions with healthcare providers. Fear of stigma and bias at a doctor’s appointment leads people to avoiding or delaying care.
According to Portland State University, in Multnomah County:
African-Americans are more than twice as likely as whites to die of diabetes.
African-American mothers are almost twice more likely than whites to give birth to low birth weight (LBW) babies.
According to the Oregon Health Authority, in Oregon:
13.4% of African Americans have diabetes, compared to 6.4% of whites.
41.4% of African Americans have hypertension, compared to 25.3% of whites.
16.5% of African Americans have asthma, compared to 10.1% of whites.