Under the Skin

By Linda Villarosa

Under the Skin book cover
Added August 8, 2022

In 2018, Linda Villarosa's New York Times Magazine article on maternal mortality among black women in America caused a revolution. Since 2000, more than 700 studies had examined the link between racial discrimination and the health of Black Americans with little progress toward solutions. 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 reveals the disparities in the American health-care 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 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, most powerfully, Villarosa describes how coping with the daily scourge of racism ages Black people prematurely, a phenomenon called weathering. Anchored by human stories and offering incontrovertible proof, Under the Skin is dramatic, tragic and necessary reading. It joins books by Ibram X. Kendi and Heather McGhee as part of an essential new look at the problem of race in America.

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