How Racism is Impacting Health Equity and What We Can Do About It.

Written by: Dr. Edith Langford

Author, Ethnographic Researcher & Clinician, Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC, LMHC), and Addiction Specialist (CASAC, ADC) with four decades of experience. After a lifetime of experiencing ongoing medical mistreatment, she is working on a memoir about medical racism in our healthcare system

People of color experience significant health disparities in the United States. In fact, these health inequities have persisted for centuries, and they are only getting worse. This is due to the pervasive reach of systemic racism on Black communities and other communities of color. Healthcare organizations must act now to address these root causes and mitigate the negative impacts of racism in achieving health equity.

In addition, the unequal distribution of power has led to a lack of resources in Black communities. This includes a lack of access to quality healthcare, healthy food, and safe housing. All these factors contribute to poor health outcomes for Black Americans. We can no longer afford to ignore the root causes of poor health in these communities.

But how do we fix it? Where do we begin?

For us to address this crisis in healthcare we must be willing to talk about racism in our daily lives to change the entire conversation around this issue. It is no secret that racism exists, but we often avoid talking about it because it can be uncomfortable. However, if we want to make progress in addressing health inequity, we need to have these conversations.

Here are three tips on how you can begin to talk to family and friends about racism.

  1. Acknowledge that racism exists and that it's a problem for everyone, not just Black and indigenous people of color (BIPOC). White people must also be honest and take a good look at the ways in which racism has impacted their own relationships and their own communities. With this realization they can make a commitment to do what they can to combat racism in their daily lives.

  2. We need to be open to hearing other people's perspectives on race. It is okay to not have all the answers. What is important is that we continue to learn and grow from these conversations. Active listening, keeping an open mind, being respectful, and curious are key in having these types of conversations. When we come from a place of understanding, we can start to make changes in ourselves and in the world.

  3. We must ask questions and seek understanding. We can start by asking ourselves how racism has impacted our own lives. From there, we can begin to ask others about their experiences with racism. It is important to remember that everyone's experience is different. We can also look to resources like books, articles, and podcasts to learn more about racism and its impact on our world.

These conversations can be difficult, but they're essential if we want to create a more just society; one that places health equity at its core for all people. We all have a role to play in combating racism, and it starts with honest dialogue. So, let's keep talking about how we can move forward together.

For more resources and tips on how to talk about race and racism read this insightful article from How to Talk to Black Friends and Family About Racism

Questions? Stories? Need a mental health expert to discuss Black health issues and medical racism for your media story? Get in touch.

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