Being Black Is Bad for Your Health

Articles | April 14 2016

We must acknowledge the link between race and poor health before we can meet our nation’s daunting health equity challenge.

By Risa Lavizzo-Mourey and David Williams

When we talk about seeking health equity in this country, the goal is to ensure that all people have the access and means to live a healthy life. But the often unspoken truth underlying this challenge is that being a person of color in America – whatever your economic status – is bad for your health.

Researchers have coined a term – “excess deaths” – to explain the sad fact that if blacks and whites had the same mortality rate, nearly 100,000 fewer black people would die each year in the United States. Even educated African-Americans are sicker and die younger than their educated white peers. A black person will live on average about three fewer years than a white person with the same income, according to Paula Braveman, a leading researcher on health inequalities at the University of California, San Francisco. (read more)