Excerpts from a 2019 medical textbook, asserts dangerous and offensive stereotypes about Black People as true, including that they “exaggerate pain levels.” This material should be alarming for anyone seeking quality medical care, and is indicative of what medical professionals have been trained to believe.
Such false beliefs have created dangerous realities for Black Women as they are routinely ignored and gravely disregarded in life-threatening manners by medical professionals.
When seeking medical assistance, Black Women are unnecessarily interrogated about their sexual and reproductive health, accused of fabricating symptoms, and are overall poorly diagnosed, treated, and cared for. Project Noir participants speak of these terrifying medical experiences as they contribute to the foundational lack of trust in healthcare for Black Women and their families.
When seeking medical help, an alarming number of Black Women in Cleveland endure months of pain, sleepless nights, changes in diet and exercise routines, lost paid time off, and copay fees, all for no reason other than doctors determining that their health concerns are inconsequential based on looks.
Project Noir participants shared that when seeking help, healthcare professionals refused to provide any treatments or testing services.
Too often, doctors in Cleveland gaslight Black patients, telling women that their health issues are minor, reject the responsibility of identifying the root causes of health conditions and choose to focus solely on weight, diet and sexual activity regardless of present symptoms.
Women’s Health is More
than Sexual Health
Project Noir participants shared narratives of being subjected to unwanted, invasive and/or unnecessary sexual health exams that were often unrelated to why they had visited.
Participant responses included stories of healthcare professionals questioning virginity, making vulgar comments, performing aggressive exams without consent, and extreme pressuring to take birth control.
Accounts shared by Project Noir participants paint a picture of a healthcare landscape that simultaneously disbelieves and sexualizes Black Women, even as their bodies are in medical emergency.
Improper Pain Management
Pain management is a lifesaving component of medical care, acting as a key sensory indicator of general healthcare problems. Yet, recent studies report Black patients are 40% less likely to receive pain management during emergency room visits than white patients.
There is also an appalling lack of research into women’s health, leaving women more likely to receive prescribed sedatives and pain relievers compared to men; intersections of race, ethnicity, and class only deepen this disparity.
Across disciplines, “treatment” for women seemingly focuses on sedation and silencing rather than management and care.