From the New York Times:
The answer to the disparity in death rates has everything to do with the lived experience of being a black woman in America.
By LINDA VILLAROSA APRIL 11, 2018
When Simone Landrum felt tired and both nauseated and ravenous at the same time in the spring of 2016, she recognized the signs of pregnancy. Her beloved grandmother died earlier that year, and Landrum felt a sense of divine order when her doctor confirmed on Muma’s birthday that she was carrying a girl. … “I pictured myself teaching my daughter to sing,” says Landrum, now 23, who lives in New Orleans. …
But Landrum, who was the mother of two young sons, noticed something different about this pregnancy as it progressed. The trouble began with constant headaches and sensitivity to light; Landrum described the pain as “shocking.” It would have been reasonable to guess that the crippling headaches had something to do with stress: Her relationship with her boyfriend, the baby’s father, had become increasingly contentious and eventually physically violent. Three months into her pregnancy, he became angry at her for wanting to hang out with friends and threw her to the ground outside their apartment. She scrambled to her feet, ran inside and called the police. He continued to pursue her, so she grabbed a knife. “Back up — I have a baby,” she screamed. After the police arrived, he was arrested and charged with multiple offenses, including battery. He was released on bond pending a trial that would not be held until the next year. Though she had broken up with him several times, Landrum took him back, out of love and also out of fear that she couldn’t support herself, her sons and the child she was carrying on the paycheck from her waitress gig at a restaurant in the French Quarter. …
Black mothers and infants are dying at a higher rate than white mothers and infants, in large part because of societal racism and racial bias in the health care system. …
Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants — 11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data — a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were considered chattel. …
The reasons for the black-white divide in both infant and maternal mortality have been debated by researchers and doctors for more than two decades. But recently there has been growing acceptance of what has largely been, for the medical establishment, a shocking idea: For black women in America, an inescapable atmosphere of societal and systemic racism can create a kind of toxic physiological stress, resulting in conditions — including hypertension and pre-eclampsia — that lead directly to higher rates of infant and maternal death.
Is the cause white microaggressions or could it be — I know this sounds crazy, but hear me out — their black boyfriends beating them up?
Of course, only a racist would notice the non-Narrative part of this woman’s story.
And that societal racism is further expressed in a pervasive, longstanding racial bias in health care — including the dismissal of legitimate concerns and symptoms — that can help explain poor birth outcomes even in the case of black women with the most advantages.
“Actual institutional and structural racism has a big bearing on our patients’ lives, and it’s our responsibility to talk about that more than just saying that it’s a problem,” says Dr. Sanithia L. Williams, an African-American OB-GYN in the Bay Area and a fellow with the nonprofit organization Physicians for Reproductive Health. “That has been the missing piece, I think, for a long time in medicine.” …
After Harmony’s death, Landrum’s life grew more chaotic. Her boyfriend blamed her for what happened to their baby and grew more abusive. Around Christmas 2016, in a rage, he attacked her, choking her so hard that she urinated on herself. “He said to me, ‘Do you want to die in front of your kids?’ ” Landrum said, her hands shaking with the memory.
White-on-black microaggressions or black-on-black macroaggressions? I blame white people. They have agency.
Then he tore off her clothes and sexually assaulted her.
And her boyfriend’s name was Haven Monahan.
She called the police, who arrested him and charged him with second-degree rape. Landrum got a restraining order, but the district attorney eventually declined to prosecute. .
Landrum had a brief relationship with another man and found out in March 2017 that she was pregnant again and due in December. “I’m not going to lie; though I had a lot going on, I wanted to give my boys back the sister they had lost, ” Landrum said, looking down at her lap. …
She believed that a kind of toxic stress triggered the premature deterioration of the bodies of African-American women as a consequence of repeated exposure to a climate of discrimination and insults. The weathering of the mother’s body, she theorized, could lead to poor pregnancy outcomes, including the death of her infant.
And so forth and so on.
I blame white people for their microaggressions.
After all, even though this article is full of accounts of black-on-black macroaggressions, such as the main character being beaten and raped by her boyfriend, “macroaggression” is not a word while “microaggression” is. Therefore, according to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, as explained in the “Newspeak” appendix to Orwell’s “1984,” we aren’t supposed to notice how much of this young woman’s troubles are caused by the poor decisionmaking of herself and the men with whom she chooses to conceive babies.
No, the fault must lie with white people.
Furthermore, the history of this kind of blood libel suggests that nothing could possibly go wrong.