What facts will most adequately arm public health officials to slay societal sickness? One major morsel of knowledge is this: White supremacy is affecting the fate of black bodies. So insists a public institution.
Boasting enrollment above 65,000, the University of Minnesota offers a plethora of perks. One of them: the School of Public Health’s Center For Antiracism Research For Health Equity (CAHRE). Thanks to the Center, young adults pursuing careers in fields such as Health Services Research, Policy & Administration, and Epidemiology can enter their lives’ work ready to raze melanin-deficient deviancy.
The Center has partnered with the state’s Department of Health and a group called Diversity Science to create a curriculum for medical professionals informing them that systemic racism is a public health crisis.
Apropos of emergency, for 2017-2018, the Health Department reported on pregnancy outcomes. It might’ve studied women, but instead a different group was selected. Per the Minnesota Maternal Mortality Report:
While Black birthing people (13 percent) and American Indian birthing people (two percent) are a small portion of the birthing population, they are disproportionately represented among the pregnancy-associated deaths, making up 23 percent and eight percent of the deaths respectively.
One might expect said inequity’s cause to be non-malicious, but the state claims Caucasian corruption is at work. Therefore, among its “highlighted recommendations” for health workers:
Address bias in systems perpetuating disparities in the birthing population. Acknowledge historical trauma and racism and the impacts on birthing people.
The Minnesota Department of Health…has partnered with the University of Minnesota Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity…who developed interactive and engaging eLearning courses to meet the criteria listed in the Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act…
The new curriculum was designed for healthcare professionals to deepen their understanding of the impact of structural racism on the health and healthcare of Black and Indigenous birthing people. The first course focused on Black birthing people was released earlier this year, and the new module focusing on Indigenous birthing people is now available.
Now onto University of Minnesota’s “Maternal & Child Health for Black & Indigenous Minnesotans,” which instructs students thusly:
What’s At Stake
Structural racism involves interconnected institutions created by the historical and ongoing devaluation of Black and Indigenous lives. Due to structural racism, in Minnesota:
- Black birthing people* are [roughly two times] more likely to die due to pregnancy complications than their white counterparts, and Indigenous birthing people are [roughly four times] more likely to die.
- Black & Indigenous babies are over two times more likely to die before their first birthday than white babies.
And make no mistake:
Racism, Not Race
Racism, not race, is a fundamental cause of racial birth health inequities in Minnesota. From the roots of U.S. history, white supremacy was used to justify and uphold the institution of slavery and colonialism. Myths that Black and Indigenous people were innately “less than” white people have shaped the historical, geographic, interpersonal, and institutional contexts in which birthing people live, conceive, are pregnant, give birth, and care for their children in the present.
According to a host of headlines, white wickedness is radically ruinous:
Even so, the University of Minnesota ensures that pale perniciousness can be pummeled:
Structural racism is a public health crisis, but it is also a fixable problem. Health professionals can help counteract the burdens of structural racism for Black and Indigenous birthing people with evidenced-based antiracist models of care.
Health service providers and researchers must consider antiracism as a core professional competency. Structural racism impacts intersecting institutions, affecting where Black people live, work, play, and age. Health professionals must center this context when providing care and creating policies.
Can America’s pigment-impoverished viciousness be eviscerated? It seems the more white supremacy we unearth, the worse white supremacy becomes.
Hopefully, Minnesota’s optimism is on point: Whiteness will eventually be wiped out by the Wite-Out of wokeness.. And on that day, justice will serve all — including all babies and their once-beleaguered birthing people.