By Mary T. Bassett
The New England Journal of Medicine
Originally posted February 18, 2015
Here is an excerpt:
As New York City's health commissioner, I feel a strong moral and professional obligation to encourage critical dialogue and action on issues of racism and health. Ongoing exclusion of and discrimination against people of African descent throughout their life course, along with the legacy of bad past policies, continue to shape patterns of disease distribution and mortality. There is great injustice in the daily violence experienced by young black men. But the tragedy of lives cut short is not accounted for entirely, or even mostly, by violence. In New York City, the rate of premature death is 50% higher among black men than among white men, according to my department's vital statistics data, and this gap reflects dramatic disparities in many health outcomes, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and HIV. These common medical conditions take lives slowly and quietly — but just as unfairly. True, the black–white gap in life expectancy has been decreasing, and the gap is smaller among women than among men. But black women in New York City are still more than 10 times as likely as white women to die in childbirth, according to our 2012 data.
The entire article is here.