February is Black History Month, a time to honor the struggles and accomplishments of Black Americans. At Herrick Library, we wanted to highlight the health disparities that Black people have historically faced and are facing in the United States, the medical racism they face in the health care system, and the resilience the Black community embody in working to achieve health equity.
African Americans experience higher rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke than white Americans. For example, according to the CDC, African Americans ages 18-49 are 2 times as likely to die from heart disease than whites. Furthermore, Young Black Americans are living with diseases more common at older ages, leading to a higher death rate of all causes at early ages than whites. There are many social determinants that influence these health disparities for the Black community, including higher rates of unemployment, living in poverty, no home ownership, inability to see a doctor due to cost, smoking, inactivity, and obesity — all of which are tied to institutional racism.
African Americans often face medical racism when they are able to seek care. Black peoples’ health concerns often go untreated or undertreated due to the implicit biases healthcare professionals can have.
As the Black community continues to fight for their civil liberties and improved quality of life, so too do their health conditions improve. The death rate for African Americans decreased 25% from 1999 to 2015. With continued support of Black liberation from all sectors of American society — the government, public health professionals, community organizations, healthcare providers — will we be able to achieve true health equity in this country.
We also wanted to highlight some resources available at the library that highlight Black health and wellness. Stop by and check one out, or place a hold on any of these titles by following the corresponding link:
- Black man in a white coat : a doctor’s reflections on race and medicine by Damon Tweedy, M.D.
- Hair love : a celebration of daddies and daughters everywhere Matthew A. Cherry ; illustrated by Vashti Harrison
- Layla’s happiness written by Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie ; illustrated by Ashleigh Corrin
- Soul food Sunday written by Winsome Bingham ; illustrated by C. G. Esperanza
- The pain gap : how sexism and racism in healthcare kill women by Anushay Hossain
- Skin like mine by LaTashia M. Perry ; illustrated by Brittany J. Jackson
- The unapologetic guide to Black mental health : navigate an unequal system, learn tools for emotional wellness, and get the help you deserve by Rheeda Walker
- Unprotected : a memoir [Electronic book] Billy Porter.