What does systemic racism have to do with grieving a loved one?
Systemic racism is a massive topic and I’m glad you’re curious about it. Just to scratch the surface: medical errors affect people of color at statistically higher rates than white folks. The maternal death rate for Black women is orders of magnitude higher than rates for white women. Within the coronavirus pandemic we see the effects of systemic racism as well: the little fingertip monitors that assess oxygen saturation levels don’t work as well on dark skin (because they’re designed and tested for white skin), which means Black and brown patients appear to have higher O2 stats than they actually do, which means health problems don’t get discovered as quickly (or at all).
There’s a lot of research out there on the measurable, tangible effects of racism on health, lifespan, addiction, and illness. All of these things increase death rates for people of color, which results in grief – both for the individual families involved and in the Black community in general, as the knowledge that so much of this grief could be avoided if our systems were equitable is a heavy load to bear.
Some great people to check out if you’re curious and would like to learn more include Rachel Elizabeth Cargle and the folks at From Privilege to Progress.
To read more about racism in medicine and how that creates grief, use the Google search terms “structural racism” plus “medicine” or “maternal death rates.”
Interested in learning more about oximeters and Black patients? Read this article from the NY Times.
P.S. Whenever we post about racism we receive responses ranging from honest questions like the one I answered here to angry comments and threatening DMs. People threaten to unfollow me if I continue to post “political stuff on a grief page.” Racism creates grief, and grief is what we talk about here.
Please. Unfollow if you’re not cool with hearing about death and loss and grief. Unfollow if the mere mention of inequality and violence against people of color AND THE GRIEF THAT RESULTS freaks you out so much you need to dm a person threatening them.
Everybody else? Hi. Thanks for being here. I love you. You’re awesome. Every loss is welcome here, and we never shy away from the tough stuff.
Wishing for some company inside your grief? The very best place I know to connect YOU with other grieving folks is inside the Writing Your Grief community. When you feel invisible inside your grief, these folks see you. When your friends have their own sh*t to deal with and you can’t lean on them, your WYG family is there. Registration for the February session is open now. Follow this link to join us. We’ve got room for you. Come see…