This is the sort of stuff that in my utopia, would be required reading for anyone holding any public office in Memphis…

From the first PDF that comes up under this google search:

Racism is a living legacy—a history that has become part of the lived experience, not only of African Americans, but of every American. We have developed a pattern of how we relate—or fail to relate—to one another. And it is most evident in tropes that we have invented for women of color. We make reference to them as Jezebels, Aunt Jemimas, welfare queens. These tropes are alive in public policy, manifesting as policies that fail to consider the lived experiences of women, particularly women of color.








To resist changing the social circumstances— the nature of relationships between us—we medicalize social problems, acting as if the problems are medical in nature and in need of a medical response. This has been part of the history of infant mortality rate analysis.

There is awareness that social relationships, the social environment, can be toxic to mothers and their infants. But we decide, consciously, that it is too hard to change that social environment, so we just try to educate women to adapt to the circumstances.



To develop effective policies, we must take relationality and women’s experiences in relationships into account. There is a difference between sending bread to a sister, and breaking bread with a sister. There is a difference between creating policy for women, and co-creating policy with women. And there is a difference between creating a policy that says, “Let’s educate women about prenatal care,” versus “What can we learn from women about their experiences before, during, and after pregnancy?”

What we are learning—or relearning— is not new. Throughout the history of reform efforts to prevent infant mortality, there has been a more or less explicit awareness that there are larger, more complex social forces adversely affecting the health of women and children. We have learned this from women long ago. That we have ignored it is problematic.


And a little bit later, about halfway down the PDF, there’s an interesting interview with Dr. Collins and Dr. David…

 …My colleagues and I found that African American women who delivered preterm, very low birthweight infants had approximately a two-fold greater lifelong exposure to racial discrimination than African American women who delivered term, normal birthweight infants.



















Dr. David: 

The take-home message  from our work over many years is that disparities in birth outcomes between African Americans and whites are just part of the story, but they tell us about deep-seated problems with American society. These problems lead to excess deaths for babies of both races. If African American infants had the same life chances as white infants, it would mean about 4,500 fewer African American infant deaths each year. But if white American babies had the same survival rate as infants born in other countries, 10,000 fewer white infants would die annually.











Dr. David: The high rate of prematurity and low birthweight among babies born to well-educated and welloff African American women was truly a surprising—and disappointing— finding when it was first demonstrated some decades ago. But it just tells us how pervasive and deep-rooted the effects of discrimination are. The idea that race is just a marker or indicator for socioeconomic status is false and simplistic. Race is part of a person’s  socioeconomic status if they live in a racialized society like ours. Because of racial divisions among the population at large, the condition of non-black women is driven down also. Lack of solidarity among middle- and lower incomepeople of various races makes it possible to prevent reforms favored by the vast majority, such as universal health care.








Our research has shown that African American infant girls whose parents live in poor neighborhoods grow up to have an increased risk of having a low birthweight baby themselves, even if they are no longer poor as adults. The beginning of the solution, I feel, is to forge social and political unity across racial lines so that the vast majority of people in this country, of all races, can be in a position to demand social justice—of which universal, high quality health care is only a small part.