How Race Affects Your Health
We’ve seen how your race can impact your earnings, but did you know that your race can also have a direct impact on your health?

Medical racism encompasses discriminatory and targeted medical practices and misrepresentations in medical teachings driven by biases based on characteristics of patients' race and ethnicity. Your race can dictate the quality of medical care you receive, your treatment by medical staff, and how likely you are to receive adequate care to address your symptoms.

Environmental racism is the disproportionate impact that that environmental hazards have on minority groups due to discrimination. Black and Brown people in America are more likely to live in areas with high pollution and environmental hazards, and hazardous projects such as waste treatment plants are more likely to be built in lower-income, majority Black and Brown communities. This translates to communities being sicker and having a higher incidence of issues like asthma and cancer.

Both of these issues combined contribute to communities of color being sicker and less likely to receive adequate medical care, diagnosis, and pain management.

Did you know?
  • Several studies show that doctors were less likely to believe Black patients’ self-reported pain than white patients and subsequently prescribed weaker medication to mitigate symptoms. (Hoffman, Trawalter, etc. Al)
  • Native American and Black mothers are 2-3x likelier to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white mothers. (CDC)

In November of 2020, Whatcom County Board of Health formally passed a resolution that affirmed that racism is a public health crisis in our community.

  • Read this article from the American Bar Association that talks about implicit bias and racial disparities in health care.

  • This article, published by the American Medical Association (AMA), explores how the AMA has perpetuated medical racism and how they plan to embed racial justice and health equity into their practices moving forward.

  • Read this article to learn about birth of the environmental justice movement and how racism has historically informed zoning and building decision are highlighted.

  • This article published on the American Psychological Society’s website discusses how institutional and racial discrimination and socioeconomic deprivation create barriers to health care and higher psychological stress for minorities.
  • In this video, Dr. Nwando Olayiwola speaks to the differences in care experienced between two middle-aged women, and the importance of combating racism and place-ism in medicine. (11:24 mins)

  • This video explains how environmental racism is the new Jim Crow. (1:27 mins)

  • Watch this PBS conversation featured on Amanpour & Co. to learn more about how environmental racism impacts the health and wellbeing of communities of color. (17:43 mins)