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Access to Healthcare: Effects of Racism on Black Women (Part One)

Institutional racism is an integral part of the greater system preventing black women from having access to healthcare of an equitable standard. Thousands of Black women have prematurely died as a result of not receiving a proper diagnosis, medical scripts or basic treatment. This phenomenon is not exclusive to one country but rather it exists in many spaces across the globe. In order to contextualize this topic, a reference to reading the issue from a psychosocial perspective through the University of Sao Paolo publication by Prestes, Clélia R. S., Paiva, Vera S. F (2016: 675) is useful. 

Inadequate healthcare access is viewed through the psychosocial lens which incorporates the relationship between experiencing healthcare deficiencies and relating them to an experience that thousands of others will have as a result of systematic disintegration of healthcare for women of color. The publication acknowledges sex and race categories as determinants of poor healthcare access. The writers uncover layers of interrelations between institutional dysfunction being embedded psychologically and interpersonally which continues negative societal cycles. 

The looming reality that the history of poor healthcare for Black women is not over, is in fact woven into the fabric of doctor to patient relations, stemming from a governance tier. Unfortunately, women experience the effects of this through conditions relating to reproductive health.  Physical hurdles impacting healthcare access such as poverty, lack of awareness or proximity to local hospitals are key factors. However,the experiences of Black women reflect a greater historical continuum. 

The text (2016:681) takes on the effects of poor healthcare access on the resilience and responses of black women. Prestes (2013) explored the psychic transmission which is described as the psychic continuity of the Black family, descendants, ascendants, ancestors, resulting from symbolisms associated with Black women, and moreover, resulting from shared meanings in traditional practices of black communities − cultural, political, intellectual or religious.

The authors go on to note that this psychic continuity has become a practical necessity as opposed to an innate characteristic of Black women, which can be mentally distressing as the nature of our society demands active and continued resilience against everyday structures that are meant to provide comfort. To a large degree, it is arguable that consistent stressors in the Black female psyche in relation to material challenges, will eventually negatively influence mental health. 

The considerations made in this text may concern structural healthcare issues, however, the psychosocial approach demands that consideration is made for the interrelations between healthcare and other areas of disadvantage for Black women. Poor health can impact their mental state, social cohesion, parenting style or potential to extract themselves out of the financial situation historically imposed onto them. 

As ills of our society are usually concerned with the social impact of various issues, it is surprising to realize that the practice of a seemingly unrelated sphere is a mechanism of perpetuating these ills.

 Healthcare equity for Black women would ensure the improvement of multiple facets of their lives as well as their ability to interact in every area of their lives. It is worth reconsidering their need to predispose themselves mentally for the challenges that they will face in their daily life, but also their basic right to adequate healthcare. 

Author: leahmareewilson

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