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This is a reflective piece that centers on Black voices. It offers a counternarrative to assumptions about Black women that perpetuate bias and contributes to premature deaths.
As Black women, we often write about the poor health outcomes experienced by Black women in an effort to improve our experiences. Through the years, we have learned that myths and assumptions made about Black women play a role in the way we are treated by doctors and other healthcare professionals. These interactions are not the sole reason for the poor outcomes we experience. Instead, intertwined practices (and policies) combine to form systemic racism, a societal burden we must intentionally work to dismantle.
For Black women, the anti-Black racism we experience is rooted in the social construction of racial categories that seeks to divide ethnic groups based on physical characteristics. As a society, we have accepted the categorizing of race. Yet, we know there is no scientific basis for race. This point is relevant because as Black women across the African diaspora, we are treated differently in the clinical encounter based on our intersecting identities of race and gender. As such, misogynoir, a type of misogyny directed towards Black women, becomes an important concept to understand when examining how the health outcomes of Black women differ so drastically from other women. For Black women, misogynoir translates to being disregarded, deemed non-compliant, demeaned and even berated by providers. All of which contributes to our reluctance, weariness and mistrust of the healthcare system.
For Black women, misogynoir translates to being disregarded, deemed non-compliant, demeaned and even berated by providers. All of which contributes to our reluctance, weariness and mistrust of the healthcare system.Drs. Vanessa Lopez-Littleton & Carla Sampson
…the race of the doctor is correlated to infant health outcomes. As such, increasing the number of Black healthcare providers is a critical part of this process. #MoreBlackDoctorsDrs. Vanessa Lopez-Littleton & Carla Sampson
Efforts to drive systemic change will need to begin valuing the voices and perspectives of Black women. The voices of Black women are needed at every level of the policymaking process, including decisionmaking. Black female perspectives must be integrated into service delivery models and evaluation methods in order to build trust, garner buy-in and influence outcomes. #BlackMamasMatterDrs. Vanessa Lopez-Littleton & Carla Sampson
The rejection of race-neutral policies creates opportunities to promote equity, social mobility and well-being while reducing risks of racism, discrimination, bias and mistreatment. This type of thinking can lead to the rejection of the dominant worldview that can fuel the development of the critical consciousness necessary to drive systemic change. #AntiracismCtrDrs. Vanessa Lopez-Littleton & Carla Sampson
“…we must stop grappling with whether systemic racism exists and pivot towards a level of critical consciousness that radically shifts our ability to examine the systems in which inequities occur…only then, could we begin to actively dismantle these systems in favor of accountable systems where Black women do not have to suffer in the hands of providers who devalue our opinions, voices and lives. #BlackVotersMatterDrs. Vanessa Lopez-Littleton & Carla Sampson
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