SOCIAL SCIENCES

Under the Skin: The Hidden Toll of Racism on American Lives and on the Health of Our Nation

Doubleday Jun. 2022. 288p. ISBN 9780385544887. $30. HEALTH
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Villarosa (The Black Parenting Book) expands her previous award-winning reporting on mortality among Black mothers and infants into this wider study of the effects of racism on the lives and health of Black Americans. The ailments that tend to affect Black Americans, she argues, are too often ascribed solely to poverty and lack of education, while the problems of a discriminatory healthcare system, lingering myths about Black bodies, and the long-term stresses of constantly navigating a racist society are overlooked. Villarosa combines important studies on facets of Black health with historical facts and personal experiences—including accounts of medical ill-treatment ranging from neglect to forced sterilization—to prove the extent to which multiple levels of institutionalized racism impact the well-being of Black Americans. She even calls out her own previous misapprehensions of the topic, aiming to demonstrate the ease of underestimating this issue’s pervasive effects.
VERDICT An eye-opening, heartbreaking study of the racism deeply embedded in U.S. medicine and society; critical for any reader interested in racism’s effects on quality of life.
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