Explaining racial disparities in health

Many people define race in different ways. Americans tend to define race based on skin color. The idea of race can seem to be socially constructed in the sense the people define race based on skin color. When i say socially constructed i mean that society has made their own definition of “Race”. Not all people define race based on skin color though. There are no genetic differences between people with different skin colors/shades. Some can say that there is only one race and that is the human race. Biologically speaking, race would have to do with your genetic makeup. All humans tend to have the same makeup of genes its just the fact that the DNA and those genes are different from person to person. So in that sense it’s hard to say that race can vary because of biology. On the other hand humans do have genetic diversity between and even within different groups of people. Things such as hair color, eye color, height, and weight all vary from person to person and even from parent to child. Skin color is also a genetic trait that is inherited from ones parents. According to the week one lecture: “Understanding race and ethnicity in medicine”, there is more genetic diversity inside of Africa than the rest of the world combined.

Ethnicity can be defined as human groups that have cultural differences between them. Many people confuse the word race, with ethnicity. Its impossible to get real categories of “races” because there are so many different variations of skin colors and many people tend to identify with a different ethnicity than we would think they do. A persons genes and ethnicity can affect their health. If a persons ethnic group receives discrimination, or unequal access to resources, that can definitely play a part in a persons access to healthcare which in turn would affect their health. Researches have studied birth rates between American born mothers and African born mothers and found that their study showed living with black skin in an American society affected birthing outcomes. Researches have coined the term “the weathering effect” which shows how discrimination negatively affects our health. According to an article in the New York Times, “A person who could be categorized as black in the united states might be considered white in Brazil or colored in south Africa”. With this being said it proves that “race” can be considered fluid and a person can not use a persons skin color to categorize them (Onwuachi).

Onwuachi-Willig, Angela. “Race and Racial Identity Are Social Constructs.” The New York Times. June 17, 2015. Accessed July 8, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/06/16/how-fluid-is-racial-identity/race-and-racial-identity-are-social-constructs.

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