ABSTRACT

Race is a major factor in American life. Of all the factors that adversely affect the health status and outcomes of African Americans, race is one of the major contributors. The roots of the problem can be traced back thousands of years to the very origins of Western life sciences and the health subculture. But racial effects on health outcomes are often ignored and obscured by the very medical and health establishments that purport to aid those afflicted. So impressed were Louis Knowles and Kenneth Prewitt with the effects institutional racism had on the health and health care of African Americans that they included a chapter, “Why White Americans Are Healthier,” in their pioneering book Institutional Racism in America (1969). The federally sponsored Kerner Commission Report of 1968, the Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, also cited the absence or inadequacy of health care based on race as one of the major precipitating factors in the epidemic of urban race riots sweeping the United States during the 1960s. Only now are medical and health policy researchers beginning to reexamine earlier assumptions.