Today marks 1 year since the murder of George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer, galvanizing a national reckoning on racism that cast new light on law enforcement and health.
But police killings haven’t stopped: In the past year, 967 people have been shot and killed by police in the US—Blacks at more than 2X the rate of whites,according to the Washington Post.
The trauma of bearing witness to such violence-often repeatedly via video-is just one of the health burdens that disproportionately weighs on Black Americans.
- Darnella Frazer, who was 17 when she captured cell phone footage of Floyd’s final moments that would become key evidence in police officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial, testified that she still spent nights “apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more.”
- Mental health professionals are seeing more severe mental health conditions among Black women and girls who have witnessed police violence—even indirectly, The 19th reports.
And yet: White patients are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety or depression compared to Black, Hispanic/Latino, or Asian patients, according to an Athenahealth analysis of 2020 data from over 24 million patients.
Racial segregation also persists in hospitals: The Lown Institute Hospitals Index found that many elite hospitals performed poorly on racial inclusivity. Among the 20 US News Honor Roll hospitals, 11 ranked in the bottom third for racial inclusivity—just 5 ranked in the top third.
These inequities also impact medical research into diseases that affect primarily Black Americans—such as sickle cell disease. (See below.)