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The medical violence against Black women in hospitals is appalling

The medical violence against Black women in hospitals is appalling

The medical violence against Black women in hospitals is appalling
December 05
11:00 2020

The Black Lives Matter movement continues to gain support as the result of the unjust murders of Black people at the hands of American law enforcement. In May, the entire Black community mourned George Floyd for weeks after his murder by a Minneapolis police officer. People worldwide took to the streets to cry out for justice and while it was warranted, the same initial response was not granted to Breonna Taylor, also murdered by American law enforcement. Taylor’s wrongful death has since received the exposure it deserves but it’s important to note the difference in the response, or lack thereof, both were initially given. Even in death, there is no space in the public arena that Black women are treated fairly. Not only do they also face the perils of the unfair injustice against the entire Black community, but they also suffer in other spheres of racism.

It is no secret that the U.S. and much of the rest of the world have criminalized Black bodies for centuries. Racism against Black people goes much deeper than what appears on the surface. It is much more than just the hurl of racial slurs – it’s woven deep in the structure of America. Institutionalized racism has significant long-term effects on the Black community and it continues to impede their true liberation. It goes even further for Black women. Medical racism plagues Black women and that is illustrated in how unfairly they are treated by medical professionals.

Giving birth and welcoming children into this world is not a fair scale by which to define womanhood. The same can be said in regards to a woman who decides that giving birth is not something that she desires in this life. However, some of the women who choose to do so find pregnancy to be a beautiful experience. The moment a mother meets their newborn is said to be unlike any other. While pregnancy and childbirth are a great risk for any woman, the risk is significantly greater for Black women. In fact, Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than their white counterparts, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even Black women of higher status and better access to quality healthcare are not exempt from negligence by their physicians.

Beyoncé Knowles-Carter revealed she endured a life-threatening experience while pregnant with her twins Rumi and Sir Carter. Tennis legend Serena Williams also experienced pregnancy-related complications, both reported by The Washington Post.

The dismissal of the pain Black women experience in hospitals occurs one too many times. Williams wrote that she experienced a pulmonary embolism just a day after giving birth in an essay she penned for CNN. Due to this, she fell short of breath and had blood clots blocking the passageway to her lungs. Williams recalls that medical professionals dismissed her concerns when she first alerted them of the matter. This reckless occurrence by doctors and nurses happens too often to Black women. If Black women are not safe in the hands of their doctors, they are truly not safe in any public sphere.

Mistreatment of Black women in hospitals goes beyond neglectfulness during childbirth and the general lack of attention given to those who are pregnant. In February 2020, Miami resident Shakena Jefferson was sent home with nothing but a Band-Aid to treat a bullet wound on her head as a result of a drive-by shooting. Jefferson’s girlfriend told the New York Post that Jefferson experienced headaches and short-term memory loss when she got home from the hospital. Three days later, it was discovered that Jefferson still had a bullet in her head despite having received “proper” medical treatment

This is just one of many examples of the kind of potentially fatal carelessness Black women are forced to go through at the hands of the medical industry. This is inexcusable and it is an injustice that strips Black women of any agency of their bodies. Medical professionals are expected to and even swear the Hippocratic Oath to treat all patients equally and “to keep [them] from harm and injustice.”

This makes their negligence toward treating Black women even more immoral and shameful. Medical professionals must take accountability as well as initiate change to end the medical violence against Black women.

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

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Michelle Monari

Michelle Monari

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1 Comment

  1. Truth
    Truth December 05, 20:58

    Absolutely true. Experienced first hand. That’s exactly why black women need to do all possible to take care good of themselves to the best of their ability. Because if not, you will end up in an early grave trusting most medical institutions. Do your research, and become extremely knowledgeable of any treatment or drug recommendations.

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