Race, Racism and the Midlife Health of African Canadian Women

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Although racism dialogue has been a long-standing in political and social science discourse, health researchers are still investigating its effects on the health and well-being of individuals and communities. This paper presents the findings of a three-year provincially funded research project on the midlife health of Black women. The study conducted 50 in depth interviews, focus groups and community workshops.

This paper will focus on one of the major themes of the findings of this study: racism and its impact on the health of Black women. Racism is a determinant of health not only through its direct effects on individual, family, and community health and well being but also through systemic, institutional, and individual racism and a simple lack of health professional cultural competence. . Disadvantaged class background, inadequate income, and unemployment – all consequences of systemic racism – are also determinants of health that have significant impact on the lives of Black women. This presentation will explicate how these interlocking expressions of racism and lack of cultural competence are experienced by African Canadian Women in health care policy, research, and professional practice. The consequences of gender oppression cannot be disassociated from racism or from economic disadvantage; nevertheless, it exists in systemic, institutional, and individual practices that have significant impact on health and well being. That ones race or visible minority status is a principal determinant of access to social status and health resources is congruent with a sociological perspective that emphasizes the significance of social inequality as the major source of differential distributions of health and well-being. The paper will conclude with the implications of these findings for future research and health service delivery.


Keywords: Race, Racism, Midlife Health, Black Canadian Women, Health Care Access
Stream: Race and Racism
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Dr. Josephine Etowa

Associate Professor, School of Nursing, Dalhousie University
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Dr Josephine Etowa currently works as an Associate Professor at Dalhousie University School of Nursing. Her employments history spans across international, multicultural and community development issues. She has midwifery and nursing experiences and has worked in a number of roles within the Canadian health care system including working as a lactation consultant, professional development consultant and research associate. Her research program is in the areas of: African Canadians’ health, maternal child health, multiculturalism in health care, immigrant people, women’s health and issues of inequities and social justice. In addition to her current role as a Professor of Nursing, she is actively involved in a number of community development initiatives. Dr Etowa is a founding member and past president of the Health Association of African Canadians (HAAC).

Dr. Brenda Beagan

Associate Professor, School of Occupational Therapy, Dalhousie University
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada


Ref: D08P0026