chapter  5
20 Pages

Clear and Present Dangers

Health Disparities in the African American Community
ByVerna M. Keith, Diane R. Brown

Mortality data are important indicators of the health status of population groups, although DuBois acknowledged problems with the accurate determination of causes of death. Working with various sources of data collected in Philadelphia between 1891 and 1896, DuBois' numbers show that African Americans had a mortality rate that was 1.2 times as high as the rate for whites. Both cancer and diabetes mortality are more prevalent among African American than among whites. Explanations of racial disparities in health can be roughly divided into two approaches—biological and social-environmental. The contemporary relationship between race and socioeconomic status (SES) is in part a consequence of historical patterns of structured inequality that have been perpetuated through racist ideology and practices. Research on community level SES might offer additional clues for understanding both race and class differences in health-related practices and behaviours. This chapter shows the percentage of persons who are uninsured by race, gender, poverty level, and health status.