Keisha RayJul 8, 2023
The Social, Political, and Cultural Determinants of Black People's Health
Oxford University Press 2023
Why do American Black people generally have worse health than American White people? To answer this question, Keisha Ray's book Black Health: The Social, Political, and Cultural Determinants of Black People's Health (Oxford UP, 2023) dispels any notion that Black people have inferior bodies that are inherently susceptible to disease. This is simply false racial science used to justify White supremacy and Black inferiority. A genuine investigation into the status of Black people's health requires us to acknowledge that race has always been a powerful social category that gives access to the resources we need for health and wellbeing to some people, while withholding them from other people.
Systemic racism, oppression, and White supremacy in American institutions have largely been the perpetrators of differing social power and access to resources for Black people. It is these systemic inequities that create the social conditions needed for poor health outcomes for Black people to persist. An examination of social inequities reveals that is no accident that Black people have poorer health than White people. Black Health provides a succinct discussion of Black people's health, including the social, political, and at times cultural determinants of their health. Using real stories from Black people, Ray examines the ways in which Black people's multiple identities--social, cultural, and political--intersect with American institutions--such as housing, education, environmentalism, and health care--to facilitate their poor outcomes in pregnancy and birth, pain management, sleep, and cardiovascular disease.
Claire Clark is a medical educator, historian of medicine, and associate professor in the University of Kentucky’s College of Medicine.