Journalist and award-winning radio host Priska Neely conducted an extensive study on infant deaths and had a disturbing finding — Black babies were twice as likely as white babies to die before the age of one.
“Prematurity is the leading cause here. So most of the babies are born too early and too small,” Neely explained in an interview with NPR published Sunday. “This is not a new issue, and it goes back decades. I did some digging in the library and actually found a transcript of a congressional hearing from 1984 that was called Failure To Close The Black-White Gap. But, you know, here we are 30 years later, and the gap is still there.”
However, she also pointed out this was not to blame mothers. Instead, it was more about the structural underpinnings of race and class, which are often dismissed.
“One is looking at how different communities have actually been limited to accessing certain things like health care,” Neely said. “But there’s — also, when you look at individual racism, there’s something that’s called weathering. That’s a term that was coined by a researcher back in the 1970s — looking at how Black women’s bodies respond to stress over time. And the social experience of being a Black woman in the United States can put you at a heightened state. That’s a chronic state of stress, and that can have health implications. And that’s one of the things that researchers are really focused on in looking at the cause of preterm births.”
Translation: Racism is a health crisis. Infant mortality rates were high in the U.S., with America having one of the worst rates in the developed world, according to NBC. This fact would obviously adversely affect Black babies. These sad findings may not change with our current administration.