DAY 11: How Race Affects Your Health

“From the moment of birth, you are more likely to die if you are black in this country than if you are white. You are less likely to have high quality education, access to health care, financial advancement. All of that leads to worse health outcomes, mortality, chronic illness disability, and it’s due to systemic racism in this country.” – Chrissy Kistler, family physician at UNC Health and instructor in the UNC School of Medicine

The COVID-19 pandemic sheds light on the disproportionately high number of deaths in the Black community. You may have heard about the wealth gap, but have you heard about the wealth-health gap?
According to the NY Times 1619 Project, “racial health disparities are as foundational as democracy itself.” Socioeconomic status and institutional racism lead to disparities across living conditions, limit access to quality health care and contribute to chronic stress. These factors lead to shorter life spans and higher likelihood of adverse health outcomes for people living in poverty and people of color.
Health care costs also make up a significant portion of a household’s annual budget, placing additional stress on families that may not have insurance and access to quality medical care.
Compounding these factors that worsen health outcomes for people of color, Black Americans are much less likely to trust their healthcare providers and healthcare institutions. North Carolina’s Eugenics Program sterilized over 7,000 men and women and was designed to “breed out” nonworking Black residents.
Did You Know?

  • Only 18% of Blacks and 27% of Latinx could not see a doctor due to cost, compared to 13% of White peers. Source: North Carolina Health Equity Report, 2018
  • Black women are more than two times likely to endure a stillbirth than their white counterparts. Source: North Carolina Health Equity Report, 2018
  • Only 1 in 3 Black Americans who needs mental health care receives it. Source: American Psychiatric Association, 2017
  • 34% of Black trans and non-binary individuals have had one or more negative experiences with a health care provider in the last year Source: National Center for Transgender Equality, 2015

A study by the American Bar Association notes that “the poverty in which Black people disproportionately live cannot account for the fact that Black people are sicker and have shorter life spans than their white complements. Racial and ethnic minorities receive lower-quality health care than white people – even when insurance status, income, age and severity of conditions are comparable.”

TODAY’S CHALLENGE: Do one or more of the following…


Read this article by the Kaiser Family Foundation to learn more about disparities in health and health care.
Review this fact sheet from the American Psychological Association exploring the compounding impact of socioeconomic status and race on health.


Watch this video explaining historical racial disparities that have been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Watch this TEDMED video to hear David. R Williams, a public health sociologist, discuss why race and deep-rooted systemic racism have such a profound impact on health.


Listen to this podcast from NPR about the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that institutionalized the racist eugenics movement and led to 70,000 forced sterilizations of people of color and people with physical and mental disabilities.


Advocate for health equity to be considered in all policies and processes.
Get involved with your local Community Health Improvement Plan.

United Way Takes Action:
United Way of Central Carolinas is committed to supporting programs and initiatives that reduce health disparities and strengthen the overall well-being of our community. By providing greater access to high-quality health and mental health services, we help people manage and treat all aspects of their health. We accomplish this with nonprofit partners across the Charlotte region, including Care Ring NC, Community Health Services Union County, and Lake Norman Community Health Clinic.
Donate to United Way of Central Carolinas to help advance the fight for health equity.


Take part in this week's service activity: Food Drive

Food insecurity in our region impacts a growing number of families due to the coronavirus pandemic. Our food distribution partners have asked for the following donations: canned entrees (e.g., spaghetti-o’s, chili, etc.), canned meat, canned soup or stews, canned low-sodium vegetables and canned fruit. Learn more and give back.




NEXT TOPIC: Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)  

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