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Morgan Ellis

Health Disparities that Affect

Black People in the United States

by Morgan Ellis

When looking at achieving health equity within the United States, there is a misconception that all Americans have the same access to basic healthcare needs and opportunities to live a healthy life. Unfortunately, that is not the case for the black population. Health disparities between black people and white people are deeply embedded within this country. For instance, black children have a 500% higher death rate from asthma compared to white children. Regardless of economic status, as a black individual, the healthcare system within America is dangerous for your health.

Many researchers over the years have coined the term “excess deaths” to explain the idea that if black people had the same access to health as their white counterparts, then nearly 100,000 less black people would die every year.  On average, a black person lives at least three fewer years than their white peers with the same income. As a result of racial bias, being black in America is a great stressor itself. The stressor of racial bias for black people is linked to premature biological aging. For instance, in an emergency waiting room, white people only have to wait up to 80 minutes while black people wait 99 minutes for the same care. Not only that, but there is unconscious bias in physician behavior when recommending aggressive medication to white people with chest pains than their black peers.

Unfortunately, the quality of life for a black person is not just a healthcare issue. For instance, a study that focused on 171 of the largest cities in the U.S. discovered that white people who are living in bad conditions and single parent households in poor urban areas have a better quality of life than the average black person. Another study looked at a white affluent neighborhood in Bethesda, Maryland and how on average they have a 10-year life longer span than black people who were primarily born in Washington D.C. which is only 10 miles away.


Indeed, some of these communities who recognize these disparities make efforts to make changes and help black people by making their communities healthier for all. For instance, East Lake, which is a predominately black community, has been trying to close the health equity gap by addressing housing insecurity, education and crime as well as other factors that do impact health and well-being. In Spartanburg, North Carolina, the community made a point to offer sex education and coach children and young teens on love, sex and health relationships. While there is no single solution for racism and poverty. it is a good start that towns and communities are improving the situation. Health does not rely solely in the doctor’s office, but within the neighborhoods where people live and learn.

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Morgan Ellis is a current undergraduate student at Spelman College who is pursing an English degree with the plans of becoming a physician. She is passionate about, enhancing the accessibility to healthcare, through writing, research and mentoring. This led her to join Emory University’s Health Career Collaborative where she mentored high school students, who have interest in the healthcare fields, by fostering their interest in medicine, science and public health. Over the summer, she was a part of - MGH Youth Neurology Research Program, where she worked with cutting edge technology, through interactive learning sessions in neurology. As a Senior Coordinator at Today's Patient Morgan strives to write, about medicine and medical issues and ensure that they get factual information to help them navigate the healthcare system

February 2023  page 12

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