Historically biased and unfair policies and practices have resulted in present day structures, systems and institutional practices that contribute to and magnify racial differences in access to resources, social conditions and opportunities.
This has resulted in persistent, inequitable poor health outcomes, particularly among Black and Native families. Stigma and discrimination also occur based on traits such as, undocumented status, poverty, sexual orientation and substance use disorders, among others.
Racist policies that have systematically disadvantaged communities of color over centuries have a persistent impact on health. Chronic and severe adversity floods the body with sustained dangerous levels of stress hormones, a condition known as toxic stress, which contributes to health complications. Unequal treatment perpetrated based on biases (i.e. race/ethnicity, gender, age, weight, language, disability, etc.) lead to health inequities and poor outcomes for families.
Improving maternal and infant health requires solutions that include acknowledging and dismantling racism, specifically structural, institutional and interpersonal racism, as well as addressing unequal treatment and discrimination.
– Worry About Racial Discrimination: A Missing Piece of the Puzzle of Black-White Disparities in Preterm Birth? Braveman, Paula, et al. 2017, PLoS ONE.
This Medical News Today resource provides a high-level overview of the many ways racism impacts health, complete with data, links to other resources and research insights.
This anti-racist reading and resource list, developed by the nonprofit Every Mother Counts, touches on the impact of systemic racism on Black maternal health, policy recommendations on the Black maternal health crisis and allyship.
Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation is a comprehensive, national and community-based process to plan for and bring about transformational and sustainable change, and to address the historic and contemporary effects of racism.