Our world is suffering from two pandemics right now, COVID-19 and racism. We are especially impacted in the United States, and yet the discrimination against women and minorities in our healthcare system, in particular black women, is especially terrible. Black women have a 3-4x higher risk of dying during childbirth than white women, and their babies have a 2x higher risk of death. I cannot imagine the amount of stress black women, and their families, live under; and to add insult to injury, COVID-19 is striking communities of color at far higher rates.
“In Louisiana, African Americans accounted for 70% of COVID-19 deaths, while comprising 33% of the population. In Michigan, they accounted for 14% of the population and 40% of deaths, and in Chicago, 56% of deaths and 30% of the population. In New York, black people are twice as likely as white people to die from the coronavirus.”Medpage Today, May 6, 2020
I am a white woman who has spent most of my time in predominately white circles, and if you are the same, we can support one another in our most earnest effort to be anti-racist. I wanted to personally reach out to you and express my anguish and also encourage you not to let it paralyze you into inaction.
The time is always right, to do what is right.Rev. Dr. Martin luther king, jr.
When I ran for public office in 2018, my platform was based on ending discrimination and improving access to healthcare and education. I have a deep passion for justice and equality, and these recent events have underscored to me – that I, that we, all must continue to persist and do the right thing.
Racial Disparities are a Public Health Crisis
What is heartbreaking is that racial disparities in healthcare are not new, so why does it take innocent black men, women, and children dying at the hands of police brutality and in police custody for us to act and change *finally* address injustice and inequality in healthcare? I started to understand the enormity of the global maternal health crisis when I first conducted literature reviews in this area back in 2015, and presented the findings in South Africa at the World Congress on Physical Therapy in 2017.
Some Good News
The good news is all the national healthcare academies and associations are on board to create positive change to end systemic racism. The American Public Health Association has declared racism an ongoing public health crisis, and we have a role to play in changing it, and American Physical Therapy Association president Dr. Sharon Dunn in her recent address said this:
There is so much we can do to be allies with the black community. We cannot take away their suffering, and we dare not burden them with our outrage over racism. But what we can and MUST do is stand alongside them, and as healthcare providers, we can do our best to make sure we create an equitable healthcare system that ends discrimination.
Here are a few research articles I’m sharing so we can do our homework together:
- The COVID-19 Pandemic: a Call to Action to Identify and Address Racial and Ethnic Disparities
- Eight steps for narrowing the maternal health disparity gap
- Racial Discrimination and Adverse Birth Outcomes: An Integrative Review
- Understanding how discrimination can affect health
To all of you who are suffering from discrimination, I am sorry.
I see you.
I hear you.
I stand with you.
There are going to be long-term impacts of COVID-19, and I will be working on resources to help us best navigate providing help to our patients and communities as we (hopefully and prayerfully) move toward a post-pandemic world. Finally, here are some anti-racist resources to help end racism and hold a safe space for your patients and students:
- Scaffolded Anti-Racism Resources
- Anti-Racism Resources for White People
- Anti-Racism for Fitness Professionals from Chrissy King
To each of you, whatever color you are, I am reaching out to you today in love, solidarity, and support. Please know that Living Well Institute and EudeMOMia are committed to ending racism and improving access to healthcare for all vulnerable populations.
With love and support,
About the Author
Ginger is a passionate, unapologetic advocate of improving access to healthcare, a mother to 3 sons, & a 20+ year veteran in Integrative & Lifestyle Medicine in women’s health physical therapy & athletic training. She is the author of Medical Therapeutic Yoga, founder of Living Well Institute, owner of EudeMOMIa Integrative PT & Lifestyle Medicine, and most recently uprooted to Greensboro, NC with her family after 21 years of beach living, where they and their rescue pup Scout are wildly joyous about their new hometown.