SHIAVON’S JAWN: Black women are dying and biased medical training is the killer


Shiavon Chatman, Opinion Editor

Black women are dying at the hands of everyone because we’re all conditioned to ignore Black pain if the cries are coming from a Black woman.

And that is the hottest tea I will ever serve you.

Harvard University conducted several studies about combating the ongoing bias in medical training that affects people of color.

One study revealed that some physicians were less likely to prescribe pain medications to Black patients and were less likely to treat Black patients showing signs of heart attacks.

Does this mean these physicians are racist? Possibly.

Black women are three to four times more likely to die during or after childbirth than white women. This is regardless of education and socioeconomic status, even though it is much worse for poverty-stricken women.

College educated Black women are more likely to experience childbirth complications than women of any other race and ethnicity that didn’t graduate high school.

Even Serena Williams was forced to be her own health advocate when a nurse refused to help her after Williams demanded a CT scan and a blood thinner. The nurse thought the pain medication was making Williams “confused and delusional.”

A couple of months ago, Twitter was littered with these distasteful TikToks of medical professionals mocking the symptoms of patients and calling them “fakers” and assuming when a young person complains about chest pains or headaches it’s from drugs and alcohol.

The narrative within the Black community is we need more Black health officials so we can feel safe going to the doctor. I don’t believe this is the answer. Not completely.

Unbiased medical training will save millions of people of color. Especially Black women.

I was 8 years old when I finally went to the doctor for stomach pains I’d been experiencing for a couple of years. I was only 8 and I thought I was dying (they were awful), but I didn’t tell my dad because I didn’t want him to be alone if it had turned out to be true.

Years later, I found out he also didn’t go to the doctor when I was a kid in fear that he would be sick and I’d be an orphan.

Isn’t that the saddest thing you’ve heard?

When I went to see my doctor she told my dad that I wanted attention or that he should feed me because I was probably just hungry.

My doctor was a Black woman.

We quickly switched to Sutter, which quite literally saved my life. I found out I was extremely anemic and I had a bacteria that was eating away at the lining of my stomach.

Black women, even as young as 8, have to be their own health advocates.

But Black women being ignored doesn’t start on an examining table – it starts in their own communities.

Last year, Chance the Rapper — one of the corniest men to ever walk this Earth — was being interviewed by one of my favorite journalists, Jamilah Lemieux, and he told her with everything from the documentary to him being outed for raping underaged girls — he saw R. Kelly as a victim.

Imagine looking at a Black woman and saying that with your entire chest. That’s bold.

He thought maybe he felt this way because he’s also from Chicago, or he was a fan of his music, or maybe because he is also a Black man.

I love my people more than anything. I love my Black skin more than anything but I will never be so Black where I’m OK with anybody raping and taking advantage of young Black girls. Even a Black man.

And that’s on everything I love.

“Maybe I didn’t care because I didn’t value the accusers’ stories because they were Black women,” Chance the Rapper said.

This reminds me of the bias that causes Black women to be 243% more likely to die during childbirth.

I appreciate the honesty, Chance, and your take is very relatable (unfortunately), but you don’t get any brownie points from me.

A lot of the people who came to defend R. Kelly’s name were Black women.

If we used a fraction of the strength we use to defend Black men that don’t care if we lived or died and stood up for each other, maybe we’d be OK.

Unbiased training starts in our communities. It starts at home. At least it should. It’d save lives — literally.