When Portland researchers asked some African American women why they didn’t run to doctors for depression care, the answers were sharp and clear.
“We didn’t wake up in Atlanta, Georgia. We’re in Portland, Oregon, for God’s sake,” one woman said. “My depression might not be like Suzie Ann’s depression, OK? … They’re going to call her name before they call my name. And they’re going to treat her just a little bit more different than me.”
The belief that health care is a “white system” tinged with racism was widespread in the study of 30 African American women in Portland, whose population is about 6 percent African American. That idea is backed by experience and evidence. Portland has few mental health providers of color. And nationwide, African Americans are less likely to have depression diagnosed or treated properly than whites when they do see doctors.
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