Charis welcomes Linda Villarosa in conversation with Vann R. Newkirk II for a discussion of Under the Skin: The Hidden Toll of Racism on American Lives and on the Health of Our Nation. From an award-winning writer at the New York Times Magazine and a contributor to the 1619 Project comes a landmark book that tells the full story of racial health disparities in America, revealing the toll racism takes on individuals and the health of our nation. This event is co-hosted by the Feminist Women's Health Center.
In 2018, Linda Villarosa's New York Times Magazine article on maternal and infant mortality among black mothers and babies in America caused an awakening. Hundreds of studies had previously established a link between racial discrimination and the health of Black Americans, with little progress toward solutions. But Villarosa's article exposing that a Black woman with a college education is as likely to die or nearly die in childbirth as a white woman with an eighth grade education made racial disparities in health care impossible to ignore.
Now, in Under the Skin, Linda Villarosa lays bare the forces in the American healthcare system and in American society that cause Black people to “live sicker and die quicker” compared to their white counterparts. Today's medical texts and instruments still carry fallacious slavery-era assumptions that Black bodies are fundamentally different from white bodies. Study after study of medical settings show worse treatment and outcomes for Black patients. Black people live in dirtier, more polluted communities due to environmental racism and neglect from all levels of government. And, most powerfully, Villarosa describes the new understanding that coping with the daily scourge of racism ages Black people prematurely. Anchored by unforgettable human stories and offering incontrovertible proof, Under the Skin is dramatic, tragic, and necessary reading.
LINDA VILLAROSA is a journalism professor at the City University of New York and a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine, where she covers the intersection of race and health. She has also served as executive editor at Essence and as a science editor at The New York Times. Her article on maternal and infant mortality was a finalist for a National Magazine Award. She is a contributor to The 1619 Project.
Vann R. Newkirk II is a senior editor at The Atlantic, and the host and co-creator of the Peabody Award-winning Floodlines, a narrative podcast about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. For years, Newkirk has covered voting rights, democracy, and environmental justice, with a focus on how race and class shape the country's and the world's fundamental structures. Vann is a 2022 Andrew Carnegie fellow, and was a 2020 James Beard Award Finalist, a 2020 11th Hour Fellow at New America, and a 2018 recipient of the American Society of Magazine Editors's ASME Next Award.
Feminist Women's Health Center is a reproductive health, rights, and justice organization. They provide direct services including abortion care, and they provide education, advocacy, and leadership development opportunities. They also build movements with people across all axes of oppression so that we have the rights, resources, and respect to make empowered, informed decisions about our own bodies and health. Learn more about their work at feministcenter.org.
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"A stunning exposé of why Black people in our society 'live sicker and die quicker'—an eye-opening game changer."—Oprah Daily
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