By Micha Green
Representation matters in the classroom, government, pulpit, entertainment venues, and medical facilities — perhaps particularly in health environments.
Let’s face it, people want someone caring for them that they feel understands what they’re going through. While the Black experience is not monolithic, there are ties that bind, and with systemic racism at the forefront of the common thread, there are challenges that African Americans face that — well — other Black people just understand best. And that’s why it is important to have African American health providers.
According to a 2021 UCLA study, the proportion of Black physicians in the United States has only increased four percentage points over the past 120 years, and the amount of Black male doctors has not changed since 1940.
UCLA researchers examining Black doctors evaluated U.S. Census Bureau findings, revealing that in 1900, when 11.6% of the nation’s population was Black, 1.3% of the country’s doctors were Black; and in 1940, when 9.7% of the population was Black, 2.8% of the nation’s physicians were Black, with 2.7% men and 0.1% women. In 2018, when 12.8% of the U.S. population was Black, 5.4% of the physicians were Black, with 2.6% men and 2.8% women.
With the Black community’s justified mistrust of the health system due to horrifying historic events such as the Tuskegee Experiment, it is even more important to appeal to African Americans’ need for trust in health care. One major way of building trust is having more folks to trust, and in this case, that’s Black doctors.
It’s time medical schools nationwide work diligently to attract, accept and provide more benefits and resources to produce more African American physicians.
Get Word In Black directly in your inbox. Subscribe today.