When the Bough Breaks

I got a 4/10 on the Health Equity Quiz, and I found that despite the U.S. being a strong economic power they were only ranked 29th for the world life expectancy. I originally checked the top ten, but was completely surprised to see it wasn’t close at all.

The main question was posed, why were black American babies born twice as small and prematurely in comparison to white American babies. Even more shockingly, expecting black mothers, who were college graduates, had three times the higher infant mortality rate than white mothers that were high school drop outs. With that statistic in mind, genetics doesn’t seem to play a big role in answering this question, and so an even deeper question is asked. Does the mother’s social race affect the life of the infant that she bears?

Many people believe racism is a thing of the past, but racial inequality and discrimination occur everyday in the U.S.. Even more so with women, and the significant find in the study was how black American women internalized racism in comparison to white American women. In Black women, 50% thought about racism at lease once or more a day, and 21% think about it constantly in comparison to 50% of white women who never think about it. As an expecting mother, and to be put on with this sort of chronic stress and anxiety releases extra stress hormones thus labor begins a lot sooner than expected.

It’s not easy being a double minority in any society, where you not only have to face the social stigmas of your race but your gender. All Black Americans at all income levels are more denied in mortgages, pay more for automobiles, and offered less job interviews than other racial groups. On top of that, it’s the everyday encounters of racism that make each individual’s experience more clear that social racism still exists. Making these experiences that much more vivid and recallable such in the case of Kim Anderson. To ever feel like a second class citizen is a completely degrading feeling, and it’s not an understandable feeling until one goes through it personally. Politically, these ideas have historical roots from segregation laws. With those policies, it seems that much of the chronic stress felt by Black American women stem from the still ongoing but silent thoughts of people’s predisposed beliefs.

One study showed that 70% of Americans believe racism as a part of the past. So is it ironic that many believe racism is a thing of the past, when it occurs everyday and in this case to the point of inducing early child birth. The historically charged ideas of the past seem to continuously resurface. Can this illness be rooted specifically from racism in all cases? No. However, it seems considering the factors and the variables that were tested, cumulative stress for a woman and more specifically black American women can strongly affect the baby and the mother.

It could also be true, that maybe by even watching this short documentary, you could be more conscious of how racism effects your mental psyche and your everyday stress levels. Thus, having more of an effect on you than before. It’s a funny thing, how much aware your mind can be when certain things are put in front of you.

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