Ladonna Redmond, Campaign for Food Justice Now

Monica Simpson, Sister Song

Amber Phillips, Echoing Ida

Lorece Edwards, Professor at Morgan State University

Amani Nuru-Jeter, Professor at UC Berkeley 

Moderated by Janine Jackson, Fair


Many argue that if we adjust racial disparities for indicators of class, we will see great reduction in, or even elimination of, racial difference. Haven’t middle-class and professional Black women “made it”?

But the notion that the effects of racism are eliminated through pay raises and professional success is untrue. The stress of anti-Black racism and sexism, coupled with the stress of serving as the primary caretakers of their communities, can take a toll on Black women’s health, even if they have the economic privilege to send their children to good schools, live in a wealthy neighborhood and have a high-level career. In fact, well-educated Black women have worse birth outcomes than white women who haven’t finished high school.

Black women are also disproportionately subject to various factors--from poor-quality environments in impoverished neighborhoods, to food deserts to a lack of access to healthcare --that make them more likely to contract life-threatening diseases, from HIV to cancer. Nationally, Black women account for 66% of new cases of HIV amongst all women. HIV/AIDS related illness is the leading cause of death among Black women ages 25-34. There are also drastic gaps in access to quality, culturally-competent healthcare for Black women, meaning the diseases they contract are more likely to be lethal. While Black women have a lower rate of breast cancer diagnosis than white women, they have a drastically higher rate of mortality as a result of the disease. The breast cancer death rate for Black women ages 45-64 is 60 percent higher than for white women. As the data show, Black women’s health in the US is in a state of crisis.

Join us as we elevate the health disparities facing Black women, and call for acknowledging and addressing racism and patriarchy as health determinants that should be centered in public health research and policy interventions.

Kim Anderson

Kim Anderson was a successful Atlanta attorney and executive. When she was first pregnant in 1990, Kim did everything in her power to ensure the birth of a healthy child, from diet to exercise to prenatal care. In spite of this, Kim went into labor 2 and 1/2 months early, and her baby was born weighing only three pounds. Why did this happen? Despite Kim’s status and wealth benefits, her health outcomes were not improved to the same level as one might expect by her class status. For many upwardly mobile Black women who continue to suffer poor health and birth outcomes, this stems from the lasting impacts systemic racism takes over a lifetime. The negative health impacts of racism are evidenced by the fact that African immigrants have similar birth outcomes to white American women, but the longer they have lived in the US, the worse their birth outcomes become--the results of this can be seen within one generation. Additionally, African American women’s babies weighed significantly less on average than both African immigrants and white American women’s babies.

Building the Capacity to Create Change

Join AAPF in elevating the crisis facing Black women! Contact us if you would like to partner on any of the following:

  • Host a town hall in your community. Watch a preview of AAPF’s town hall series here.

  • Organize focus groups to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges facing Black women and girls and other women and girls of color in your community.

  • Is your city an MBK city? Find out here. Work with AAPF to demand your local leaders re-align local MBK implementation to ensure it is inclusive and comprehensive in its vision of racial justice.

Share Online:

  • The median wealth for single Black women is $5.00. Share something you can buy to eat for $5 alongside this statistic.

Surveying the Landscape:

  • Look at a map and count the number of health grocery stores within 1 mile of where you live. Do you live in a food desert?

Prepare Yourself to be an Advocate:

  • Read Reproductive Injustice, a new report from NY Correctional Association on the state of reproductive health for women in NY prisons. How does this change your perception of the New Jim Crow? How can the movement to end mass incarceration better elevate the experiences of Black women?

Creating Public Will:

  • Gather your friends, family, community group or church to watch clips from Unnatural Causes, a film on health disparities.  Use this toolkit to shape your discussion.