African American women and their babies are dying at alarming rates. According to the most recent data, black mothers are three to four times more likely to die in childbirth than their white, non-Hispanic counterparts, while the death rate for infants born to black mothers is more than twice that of infants born to white, non-Hispanic infants.1
A growing body of research suggests that even when clinicians control for education, income, and health, black women and their infants are dying at significantly higher rates than other groups of U.S mothers and babies. And while race is a consistent factor threaded throughout the data, the driver of these disparities is racism.
Racism, an evergreen toxin in American society, has long served as the primary ingredient of racial inequality. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Kerner Commission, a bipartisan group created by former President Lyndon B. Johnson to investigate the country’s seemingly endless civil unrest. The commission’s final report identified “white racism” as the main source of unrest in communities across the country.2 The commission stated, in no uncertain terms, that “our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal.”