Guest Post by Kevin Brown
Linda Villarosa’s Under the Skin: The Hidden Toll of Racism on American Lives and on the Health of Our Nation exposes the overt and hidden racism that runs throughout the healthcare industry, as well as other health-related concerns—such as the influence of social and physical living conditions on mortality. Villarosa draws on the history of health and medicine to show the variety of ways the then-legalized and socially accepted racism continues to affect how healthcare professionals today see people of color, especially African Americans. What was once obvious and intentional is now built into systems, whether that’s the way research privileges the white body or medical technologies continue the bias against Black bodies. One of her main throughlines is how the medical establishment doesn’t listen to African Americans, especially women, and especially mothers. No matter what their socioeconomic status or education level, African Americans have to work to convince those in the healthcare system that their pain is real, that their suffering needs attention. Time and time again, those pleas are ignored, leading to higher rates of mortality among minority communities, again, especially in maternal deaths. Villarosa ends the book by focusing on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, but she also ends with hope that changes are happening, even amid such continued suffering.
Under the Skin: The Hidden Toll of Racism on American Lives and on the Health of Our Nation by Linda Villarosa. Doubleday, May 2023.
Reviewer bio: Kevin Brown has published three books of poetry: Liturgical Calendar: Poems (Wipf and Stock); A Lexicon of Lost Words (winner of the Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry, Snake Nation Press); and Exit Lines (Plain View Press). He also has a memoir, Another Way: Finding Faith, Then Finding It Again, and a book of scholarship, They Love to Tell the Stories: Five Contemporary Novelists Take on the Gospels. Twitter @kevinbrownwrite