Black people receive poorer medical care than white people.

The Reason So Many Patients Of Color Die Under A Doctor's Care Is That Everybody Is Racist

They're everywhere, all the time.

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Serena Williams, one of the top three or four most famous black women in the world revealed that she nearly died shortly after giving birth to her daughter, Olympia. Williams, who has a history of blood clots, knew that something was wrong a day after her daughter was delivered via an emergency C-section. She claims she informed her nurse that she was short of breath and needed a CT scan and the nurse assumed she was just "confused." Between gasps, Williams had to beg to be seen by a doctor, but instead of the CT scan and blood thinners she had requested, she was given an ultrasound of her legs. When the ultrasound found nothing, she was eventually given the CT scan, and several clots were found in her lungs. She received her heparin immediately.

Just recently, model and actress, Kim Porter died of pneumonia. In 2018, an otherwise healthy 47-year old woman died of pneumonia while under a doctors care. This reminded me of when my mom was also diagnosed with pneumonia. She was in her mid-40's at the time and entrusted a large metropolitan hospital with her care, Broward Hospital. About two days into her stay, she called me upset and annoyed. I asked what was wrong and she said that the nurses were trying to give her treatment that she didn't need. I said, "what do you mean?"

Apparently, while she was asleep, the brought in a breathing machine and attempted to hook her up to it. She woke up and asked what the machine was for and the nurse responded, "well, you're having a hard time breathing, aren't you?" My mom wasn't. In fact, she was thankfully resting peacefully, up until then at least. After that, she lost trust in her nurses and doctors and wondered if there was another patient suffocating to death somewhere on that floor who was supposed to be hooked up to that same machine. Thankfully, my mom survived pneumonia, unlike Ms. Porter.

But if two women like Serena Williams and Kim Porter, well known, wealthy, with access to the best medical care and resources known to man can die in the hands of doctors after and during routine procedures and easily treatable illnesses, then what does that me for me? I'm not a superstar, I'm not rich, I'm a "nobody," without health insurance. And why is this happening?

I'm sure these doctors and nurses aren't stupid. Medicine is a highly respected, and incredibly tough profession that requires years of schooling and testing, so what is the problem? Well, I think it comes down to stereotypes.


Nursing textbook

Stories like Serena Williams' and the high post-delivery mortality rates for black women show that often their concerns, and pain aren't taken seriously, whether it be dismissed, ignored or even chastised. And recent studies have continued to confirm that black people are severely undertreated for pain. Skin color can literally be the difference between life and death.

The narrative that black people feel less pain than white people is a tall tale as old as time. At one point, the United States needed to defend why they though the mercilessly whipping, beating, raping, etc. of slaves was okay. Their solution --- pretend black people were subhuman, and because they decided that slaves weren't really "people," they could argue that they didn't feel pain like people did. And thus, a stereotype was born. Now, centuries later, that same racism has left stains of bias in the medical profession.

It wasn't even too long ago that doctors used unknowing and unconsenting black people to study the effects of syphilis while allowing them to die from the easily treatable disease. So it actually isn't at all surprising that white medical professionals (or even white people in general) have some sort of fantastical or magical view of the superhuman, big black man (or woman) who routinely crashes through walls and feels no pain.


University of Virginia quizzed white medical students and residents

Not only are black patients more likely to be dismissed about their pain in a medical setting, but those who are believed are still more likely to be undertreated for that pain.

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It's Not 'Just Hair,' It's Our Culture, And Your Appropriation Is Not OK

Why a hairstyle matters as much as a dashiki.

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"Why can't I have locs? It's just a hairstyle."

I've heard this time and time again. I've read it online I've seen non-black people get locs or box braids believing the hairstyles have no significance and that it's just hair.

This is incorrect and a prime example of cultural appropriation.

Hair is not only a mode of self-expression but a physical identifier of one's culture. A style like box braids, for example, is traditionally African and African-American. Donning this style as a fashion statement is cultural appropriation, and it's just as bad as buying a cheap "Navajo headdress" from urban outfitters and calling yourself an "Indian Princess." One might argue that, yes, Europeans have traditional braided hairstyles and therefore, getting braids isn't cultural appropriation. If Europeans have traditional braided hairstyles, why don't you do those?

African-American women are often accused of cultural appropriation for wearing long, straight, and often blonde, weaves. This is not cultural appropriation, it is cultural assimilation. Natural coily, kinky and curly hair has been seen as ugly, unprofessional, and even illegal at times. During the Jim Crow era, it was illegal in some places for black women to go into town without straightened hair. Chemical relaxers and long straight weaves are a result of the desire to survive in a culture that is unwelcoming of one's natural features. Black women are treated unfairly because of their hair even today. The US Army only recently lifted its ban on natural hairstyles for black women. Some employers have even recently fired black women for wearing dreadlocks.

Traditional African-American hairstyles are not just hair. They are an expression of culture and individuality. Appropriating this aspect of culture is harmful and racist and should be taken seriously. The phrase "It's a culture, not a costume" rings true. Cultures are not costumes, fashion statements, jokes, or threats. Culture should be celebrated and appreciated, not appropriated.

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I Want My School To Be As Diverse As Their Advertisements Claim They Are

Several campuses pride themselves on a wide range of individuals who attend their institutions, but what is the reality versus the things we see?

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When deciding on a college I wanted to know what I was going to be getting myself into for 4 years. I watched so many videos of Boise State Universities campus to find out what I had to look forward to. I was from a smaller town in Southern California so I was very used to the amount of diversity in my school and basically whole life at that point. I am a White Mexican-American female and while growing up in my city, I was a part of the minority of white individuals. I always wanted a campus who would represent me, or I could see myself at. I looked at so many ads before I did a campus tour and looked at stacks of brochures scattered across my room with my sister. I saw people who looked like the friends I had throughout my life, my family, and most importantly myself.

I took two tours of the campus and noticed that there was a lack of the people I saw on the brochures on the actual campus and city. I walked around only really seeing individuals who were white. I drove the 14 hours back home and continued to think about how I didn't see the diversity that was advertised in everything I saw from the university. It wasn't until the big move-in day that I realized the lack of diversity I was experiencing in the staff and the individuals I shared classrooms with. When you check the university's website you can see the numbers and the lack of diversity.

  • American Indian/Alaska Native — <1% (118)
  • Asian — 2% (595)
  • Black/African American — 2% (425)
  • Hispanic/Latino — 13% (3,243)
  • Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander — <1% (121)
  • Not Reported — 4% (914)
  • Two or More Races — 4% (1.079)
  • White — 73% (18,612)
  • Nonresident (International) — 2% (433)

The numbers I was seeing wasn't matching the things I was seeing around, and it wasn't until I conducted my own research and interviews with my peers that I noticed that I wasn't the only individual that was craving more diversity on campus. Other students wanted to more people who were like them around campus. Boise State University is not the only campus that will push diversity when its really to only meet their quota. Students who transferred from Arizona State University also mentioned to me that they face similar issues and feelings around diversity from their campus. I want to bring the topic of diversity to many of the student organizations on campus to help our voice be heard for a want for a more diverse campus.

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