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Apathy and Ignorance are Killing Black Women

Updated: Jun 19, 2023

Written By: Lauren Howard

Torie Bowie.

An accomplished athlete.

An effing Olympian.

Now, a preventable statistic.

Dead from complications of childbirth in her own home.

There’s a lot that we don’t know about the situation. There are some things we know for certain.

Black women are up to four times more likely than white women to die in childbirth or from pregnancy-related complications.

It’s something I used to post about literally every day, and I stopped because I got in my head about dumb things instead of shouting about this like I should have been. Every ounce of visibility matters.

The numbers are staggering all on their own, but when you consider that Black women with graduate degrees are STILL more likely to die in childbirth than white women without high school educations, it tells you everything that you need to know about our medical system.

Systemic racism is (not surprisingly) killing Black women, and it continues to happen despite the fact that it has been WELL DOCUMENTED at this point.

Black women report that they are less likely to feel heard and supported by their physicians, both during pregnancy and during other medical events. They are more likely to feel like they were not given options or full explanations of the treatment that was recommended. They are also more likely to be outright ignored or have a medical provider encourage them to “just tough it out.”

Their complaints were more likely to be disregarded and their wishes were more likely to be ignored.

Keep in mind that the only way we get those reports is from women who have survived our medical system. That’s harrowing. I wonder if Torie Bowie would have had something similar to say.

There is a pervasive idea in medicine that Black people are stronger and can tolerate more pain, therefore they need less intervention. Read that again. We STILL have physicians and care providers who believe this despite there being zero data to support it and, in fact, good data that shows otherwise.

But racism, man.

Do you understand that we are lucky to have gotten to watch the last several years of Serena Williams’ career? That she was ignored about her postpartum symptoms and almost died of two pulmonary emboli as a result? That had she not dragged her hemorrhaging body out into a hallway and screamed for help, she would not have survived?

She’s one of the wealthiest, most accomplished, and most recognizable people in the world.

Women die when we ignore them, reduce their complaints to hysteria or anxiety, and pathologically ask them to do more.

Torie Bowie and thousands of others are the results of that.

If you are working in this space and you could use help from someone with an audience, someone with heaps of clinical admin experience, and someone who has built platforms from the ground up, get at me. If I have it, it’s yours.

We cannot keep letting apathy and ignorance kill Black women.


Founder & CEO at elletwo


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