Global Health Blogs with Professor Swahn

Student Reflections on Topics Covered in our Class

Global Health Blogs with Professor Swahn

#BLM: Health Inequity by the Numbers

October 22, 2020 · No Comments · BLM, Uncategorized

#BlackLivesMatter was founded in the United States in 2013 and has since expanded to Canada and the UK. BLM continues to inspire people all over the world to not become complacent with the way things are. It challenges people to constantly think and evaluate the way they do things, think about things, and how the world thinks and does things. The goal of the BLM movement is to “eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes” (BLM, 2020). Another more broad goal of BLM is to end the suppression of colored people in all areas of the world. If you would like to know more about the #BLM movement, visit their website here and see some of the recent work that is being accomplished.

There are major differences between growing up in a predominately white neighborhood vs. a predominately African-American neighborhood. School systems are very different, for example there is historically underfunding in African-American majority schools – which will have limiting effects on skills and social/economic mobility for these children (Shambaugh et al., 2019). When schools are underfunded that not only puts the children at risk for bad outcomes, but it also puts the teachers, school staff, and community as a whole at risk. Teachers and staff will not be able to be paid as much as they should in these communities and let’s be honest – teachers are already severely underpaid as it is. After school, the disparities don’t stop there. There are employment discriminations, which make it “difficult for black families to escape from poverty or build wealth in their community” (Shambaugh et al., 2019). Shown below is a map of the United States showing percentages of individuals who are living under the poverty level.

Now, compare the map above to the map shown below. The map below shows the distribution of the black population in the United States. See how they overlap?


When you ask the general public about their views on inequality in America, “more than four-in-ten Americans say the country still has work to do to give black people equal rights with whites” (Horowitz et al., 2019). Shown below is a graph of survey results of a study published by Horowitz, et al. in 2019 titled “Race in America 2019”.

Employment opportunities and underfunded schools are not the only problem that people of color face living in poor communities. There are systemic disparities in the healthcare system that greatly affect people of color. The ability to even have and use healthcare is a problem. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) helped to narrow the gap of uninsured African-Americans, but it did not completely eliminate it. “As of 2018, the uninsured rate among African Americans was 9.7 percent, while it was just 5.4 percent among whites” (Taylor, 2020). According to Taylor in 2020, the annual average cost for health care premiums is almost 20% of the average household income for African American families. African-American mothers also face inequalities in maternal and child care that is unparalleled in other developed nations. Women of color’s maternal and child care is a major area that needs focus on in the healthcare world. Having a child is natural and shouldn’t be life threatening in the United States, but it is. If you add being uninsured and the high cost of medical bills to a historical distrust of medical practitioners, you have a recipe for disasters, especially for chronic diseases that people in America face. 


People across the globe have come together to support the Black Lives Matter movement. There have been protests held in many different countries such as Germany, Switzerland, Brazil, Spain, the Netherlands, and many others. The world is seeing the United States not taking a significant stand on the issue of systemic racism. This further sets the United States apart from the rest of the world. Systemic racism does not only exist in the United States by any definition. But when protests are occurring and citizens are calling for change due to recent events, the way the United States answered is what sets us drastically apart from the rest of the word. The rest of the world is even standing up and calling for their own countries to stop supporting the United States because of the horrible recent events and the lack of change.

What does this mean for the future of public health? What does is mean for the future of the United States? The BLM movement is definitely a public health issue. It highlights systemic racism throughout all areas of healthcare and the associated fields. We (as citizens and public health officials especially) need to learn to identify our own flaws and learn to do better and fix these flaws. We also need to advocate for change in areas such as healthcare, fair housing, fair job opportunities, etc. Things will never change if we become complacent. We owe it to ourselves and especially others to keep moving forward and make the United States and wonderful place for everyone, especially people of color.



  • About – Black Lives Matter. (2020, October 16). Retrieved October 20, 2020, from
  • Horowitz, J., Brown, A., & Cox, K. (2019, December 31). Views of racial inequality in America. Retrieved October 20, 2020, from
  • Shambaugh, J., Nunn, R., & Anderson, S. (2019, February 19). How racial and regional inequality affect economic opportunity. Retrieved October 20, 2020, from
  • Taylor, J. (2020, May 07). Racism, Inequality, and Health Care for African Americans. Retrieved October 20, 2020, from


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