How Does the Healthcare System Fail Black Women?


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Welcome to My Page: Introduction Video

*click the link above to watch introduction video*

“This 1952 painting by Robert Thom is the only known representation of Lucy, Anarcha, and Betsey. Pearson Museum, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.”

Historical Context:

The most troubling aspect, at the forefront of medical racism, is that Black lives have been exploited since the conception of the United States. By permitting “unequal access to healthcare, the segregation of medical facilities, and the exclusion of African Americans from medical education”, Black people have always been put in positions to be treated as second-class citizens (Nuriddin). Ultimately, “the racist notion that..[B]lack [people] were inherently inferior and animal-like who needed maltreatment to be sound for work, was a critical element” to ensuring a system that perpetuated racism and allowed for White people to maintain the status of the ‘dominant race’ in America (Kyere). Centuries before, “medical schools relied on enslaved Black bodies as ‘anatomical material’” (Nuriddin). The father of US gynecology, James Marion Sims, discovered many of his findings by coercing enslaved Black women into his experiments. Gynecologists, alike, abused enslaved Black women who they considered “flesh-and-blood contradictions, vital to their research yet dispensable once their bodies and labor were no longer required” (Nuriddin). Some of the most notable instances of explicit medical racial bias are the Tuskegee Syphilis Study (1932-1972) and the creation of the HeLa cell line from Henrietta Lacks’ cancer cells (1951). Overall, all of these medically unethical and racially based incidents have served as catalysts to the inequities that currently plague the healthcare system.

(Source) Olivier Douliery/Getty Images

– Medical Racism Impacts All of Us –

Current Day Manifestations:

Black women today, similar to our ancestors, have had to endure inhumane treatment time and time again. Racism and sexism have not waned over the years, rather they have taken on new forms. Enslaved Black women and those who lived during Jim Crow were experimented upon without consent, care, degraded, and used as property to fit the needs of a White dominated society. As a result, today’s Black women are two to three times more likely to die during childbirths than White women, we are underrepresented in clinical trials, Black women have the highest mortality rate amongst women in breast cancer deaths, Black women are 2 times more likely to experience a stroke in comparison to White women, and, needless to say, the blatant disregard for Black women has furthered the deep seated mistrust of the medical community. As of 2019, the Black female population in the United States was roughly 21.72 million (United States Census Bureau). Medical racism disenfranchises all 21.72 million Black female lives and those of their loved ones. The alarming statistics exposing the deaths of Black female patients is due to systemic issues of racism and sexism embedded within and beyond healthcare. So, where do we go from here?

“Hundreds of staff at the Massachusetts General Hospital participated in a kneel-in acknowledging the injustice of systemic and individual racism in America at the Bulfinch Lawn outside of the Wang Entrance of the hospital, June 5, 2020. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)”

On an institutional level, influential steps to eliminating medical racism would be:

  • Engaging diverse community groups in policy reform.
  • Actively recruiting BIPOC to work as medical practitioners/researchers to diversify the healthcare system.
  • Implementing regular anti-bias training to health professionals.
  • Getting translators for non-English speakers seeking medical assistance. 
  • Granting financial assistance to low income people seeking medical aid and to those wishing to pursue medicine as an occupation.  
  • Social outreach (informing people about their rights when they go into a hospital, etc.).

Individually, a regular civilian can:

  • Contact policymakers to ask for them to implement grants for underprivileged people to attend medical school.
  • Sign petitions that advocate for equitable treatment/resources.
  • Vote for propositions/people that enact policies that lessen disparities.
  • Lastly, educate yourself and other people about medical racism as it is not a highly visible topic.

Propositions, legislative bodies, and organizations will be linked below!!

Blatant Neglect of Black Women.
Source: Illustration Brian Stauffer

Essays, Organizations/Policies, and Works Cited.


Please complete the Google form linked above to offer feedback or comment down below!! Thank you for your time and I truly hope that this web page has been informative for you!

Collectively we must educate, promote awareness, and amend our systems so that everyone is served equitably.



  1. Sources said that members of racial and ethnic minorities are less likely to receive preventive health services and often receive lower-quality care.

    1. Yes, this is true. “Only 23% of African Americans, 26% of Hispanics, and 39% of Asian Americans have a physician that shares their race or ethnicity, compared to 82% of White Americans” (Wilbur, et. al). Those who are members of racially, ethnically, and other minoritized communities are at higher risk of receiving lower-quality healthcare and preventative services. For instance, when a person from a marginalized racial/ethnic group presents with symptoms to a physician, they are more likely to have their symptoms dismissed and disregarded. Not only can this be attested to statistically, but from an individual’s personal experiences as well. One tends to have more empathy/sympathy for another person that they know, can relate to, and so forth. That is why the need to diversify the field is so pertinent; if there were a more diverse range of professionals, preventable morbidity and mortality rates would decrease.

  2. You did a profound job at educating African-Americans, as well as other races, that cannot comprehend Black women’s history. Wonderful job!

    1. Thank you so much! I am glad that I could do justice towards Black women’s history as so much of it is overlooked and rewritten.

  3. Well done! This is a great time to address this issue because the disparities are showing up strongly in the pandemic statistics. You have clearly laid out the root causes and, importantly, recommended many actionable solutions.
    I would add an idea – we should encourage more of the existing black healthcare professionals and academics to get involved, speak out and be visible role models to encourage more youths of color to become healthcare professionals.

    1. I totally agree with all that you have stated!! It is pertinent that those already in the medical field continue to advocate and be visible. Their experiences as BIPOC (Black/Indigenous/People of Color) healthcare professionals are just as important of those of BIPOC patients.

  4. I learned so much about the benefits of eliminating medical racism and what I can do to help! Great project!

    1. Wow, that’s amazing! Ultimately, I want people to takeaway actionable next steps towards eliminating medical racism. I am super ecstatic that this webpage has been informative for you.

  5. This report enumerates copious evidence to highlight historical mistreatment and inadequate provision of health and medical services to African Americans.

    The report further educates concerned citizens on actions to take to obtain redress and to achieve health care parity for African Americans and minorities. Kudos!

    1. Thank you so much! I am grateful that this webpage has served informatively.

  6. Well done girl, the report is apt and it came to photos to portray all points discussed. You have clearly outlined the causes and the role black women play in healthcare. Congratulation dear.

    1. Thank you so much!!

  7. I’m truly awed at your understanding of the issues and my belief is that if we continue to speak up collectively, there will definitely be a change in the status quo. We cannot continue in a live and let live situation as our actions now will greatly impact on our generations yet unborn.

    1. 100%. Although change may be gradual, it will come because a system cannot remain intact when the people who are served inequitably and those who understand their privilege and use it for good, unify to fight these issues at hand.

  8. Quite revealing. Hope it gets to the eye of those that can effect changes and do the needful. Congratulations on the write up.

    1. Thank you! Legislative change is immensely important!! We need to be able to make change concrete through legislation, policies, laws, and various acts. These will be incredibly impactful for future generations.

  9. Great work. Well done.

    1. Thank you, much appreciated!!

  10. This project was so profound and eye-opening! I learned so much about medical racism and what I can do on an individual level to prevent or eliminate it! It’s something that needs to be addressed and that not many are aware of! Great job!

    1. I am so happy that my piece has been instructive for you!! Additionally, I am grateful that you are thinking about how you can, as an individual, commit towards action steps that combat racism in healthcare! Thank you so much for your feedback and simply taking the time to read through what I had to say about this social injustice.

  11. Very informative, educational and eye-opening. Well done Iyobosa. Proud of you.

    1. Thank you so much, Fern.

  12. Great expose on health care inequality. There has been progress with the provisions of Medicaid and the birth of Obamacare but more focus is needed on plans that attend to black women and kids.

    1. Very true. More needs to be done to directly combat the discrimination that Black patients are subjugated to and, quite frankly, all groups of people that are subjected to similar discriminatory actions. Discrepancies in patient care are not acceptable, especially when the causes of them are biases based off of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and other identities.

  13. You did a great job on this project! It is very well organized and informative. This is an important topic that more people need to become aware of, so I’m glad you chose to focus on it. Well done!

    1. Thank you!! I am delighted that I could shed light upon a social injustice of the utmost importance to me.

  14. The scholarship, passion, and truth you display in your work is outstanding. Fantastic job, Iyobosa!

    1. Thank you so much, Ms. Cuellar!!

  15. A great piece of work, presented eloquently. Well done.

    1. Thank you very much!

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