Health Disparities: Yes, It is Because You are Black

This excerpt is from an exposition focusing on African American women and the health disparities they experience. The full essay explores the complications of poverty and its effect on black women in nearly all aspects of life. I’ve included this to showcase a more research-based approach to communication.

Black women have overcome a surfeit of obstacles. They withstood a strong fight for both racial and gender equality. They have made great impacts in medicine, technology, and education all while being critiqued as not as socially acceptable than a white woman and not smarter than a man. The scar-ridden past does not deter African American women from achieving great accomplishments. However, in regard to health, it is nearly impossible to help black women without understanding their culture and history. Public health issues such as poverty, obesity, breast cancer, and hypertension continue to persist due to the history, culture, and stigmas surrounding black women.

Black women represent a minority population within a minority population. Thirteen percent of all Americans are African American. African American women make up about 13% of the female population (Guerra, 2013). In addition, the education rate for black women lags behind other group rates, and as we have discussed, a lack of education paves the way for poverty. Moreover, compared to the 24% of women that make up STEM workforce, home to many lucrative-paying careers, only 2% of these women are African American.

With lack of education and economic inequality vividly expressed across not only races but genders, the reasons African American women experience poverty are more evident. In fact, because there is a growing number of women in poverty, a new phenomenon, the feminization of poverty, has been coined (Giddens, 2009). The term illustrates that several women today are falling under the poverty line classified by the U.S.
Many barriers, such as the stigma around black women in need doubling as “welfare queens”, a popular derogatory term coined by the Reagan administration, have halted professionals from taking stronger stances against impoverishment. When designing an intervention to address impoverished black women, public health professionals should understand that not all African Americans abuse the government’s help. Professionals must acknowledge that many other external reasons, such as racial tensions and prejudice, have a great impact on a black woman’s financial security. To overcome such stigmas, healthcare professionals should educate themselves on each woman’s background and hold off on judgment. Professionals and leaders in legislation should focus more on preventing poverty and finding ways to get out of poverty rather than feeding into political rhetoric and blaming black women for their financial debacles.