Why anti-Black racism may be damaging to America’s overall health

February 21, 2024

Contact: Jon Meerdink ([email protected])

ANN ARBOR — Race and health have a close relationship in the United States, one that might run deeper than we expect.

And according to Louis Penner, Ph.D., of the Institute for Social Research’s Research Center for Group Dynamics, anti-Black racism, in particular, has enormous negative effects throughout America’s health and public policy sectors.

Penner presented his thoughts on the matter in the latest edition of ISR’s Insights Speaker Series, held on February 15, 2024. In his presentation, titled “Unequal Health: Anti-Black Racism and the Threat to America’s Health,” Penner said data conclusively shows Black Americans routinely have worse health outcomes than their white counterparts when dealing with the healthcare system.

“Relative to white Americans, Black Americans have a life expectancy of six years less,” he said. “Their life expectancy was more affected by the COVID pandemic than the life expectancy of whites. They have a 40% higher mortality rate for people 35 to 49. There is a much higher rate of premature deaths among Black Americans than among white or European Americans. They are more likely to die from the same disease than white Americans are. They have two to three times higher infant and maternal mortality rate.”

Furthermore, Penner argued that these are not inherent differences. They are the result of systemic issues affecting one racial group more than the other.

“The important thing to remember about these statistics I gave you is they reflect disparities, not differences. A disparity is a varying rate of illness or death between two groups that is due to political, economic, social, or psychological processes. They are not differences. Differences are relatively immutable biological or genetic characteristics.

The full video of Penner’s presentation is available below. For more information on the Insights Speaker Series, click here

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