Skip to main content

By Gabriela Barros, Alicia Bao, Sindhu Damodaran, Sewoe Mortoo


Racial healthcare disparities cause disparities in health outcomes and are exacerbated by issues like lack of representation, inaccessible healthcare costs, and the “hidden curriculum” as applied to racial and ethnic groups. Oftentimes, the lack of diverse racial representation in healthcare education leads to inaccurate and harmful assumptions about biological differences between races. Cultural incompetence, the “hidden curriculum” over patient worthiness, and miscommunication only serve to aggravate the mistreatment of patients in healthcare settings. To address the issues above, it is vital for the experiences and stories of patients to be heard and understood. In each of the clips in our playlist, the individuals not only tell us their stories, but also tell us what is needed to prevent others from experiencing the same issues.

Ebony Talley-Brame, a business owner from Warrenton, NC, sheds light on the issue of racial health disparities as she recounts how her grandmother had to travel to another county to receive treatment for Alzheimer’s due to the lack of resources in their home county. Eleanor, a pseudonym for a Black representative from the National Caucus & Center on Black Aging based in Lillington, NC, reveals how growing up poor and without access to healthcare led her family to rely on home remedies, highlighting the impact of socioeconomic factors on people of color and their unequal access to healthcare. Ana Maria Deaver, a Black and Hispanic woman who works as an interpreter at CommWell Health, similarly recalls being given home remedies such as castor oil when she was sick because her family did not have access to a doctor.

Andrea Williams-Morales is a Mexican-born health-care administrator who currently lives in Sampson County. She discusses the health of her community and how it has its roots in the culture of the people. She also discusses the steps she is taking to keep her and her family healthy, and the challenges that it presents outside the home. Nell Burwell is a Black woman from Rocky Mount, NC who has spent much of her life involved in education and the youth of Rocky Mount. She outlines how food disparities greatly impact the health of her community, using herself as a case study. Likewise, Carol Fields, a Black woman who worked in technical support at aerospace and engineering companies before retiring to Clinton, NC, discusses the prevalence of diabetes in her community that she believes is due to a lack of healthy food options.

Lata Chatterjee is a former professor of Geology and Environmental Engineering who immigrated to the US for education at John Hopkins University. She discusses her and her mother’s experiences with American health care systems, along with her mother’s end of life care. Her experiences with American healthcare demonstrates the environments and interactions that alienate BIPOC communities.

Jacqui Laukaitis has volunteered as a medical interpreter for Open Door Clinic, then worked as a medical interpreter at a hospital. She describes healthcare providers’ misconduct towards Hispanic and Latine patients and the difficulties she encounters as the only medical interpreter in her clinic. Her experiences highlight the inequities that many low-income or middle class immigrants experience with American healthcare.

The experiences of everyone here demonstrate the many layers of what unequal healthcare access looks like. From the inaccessible preventative measures, such as food disparities, to simply the lack of access to a doctor or medical interpreter, this essay analyzes the tangible effects of the healthcare disparities on BIPOC communities.

Student Essays

Food Insecurity

When you think of food, what do you think of? The last meal you ate, perhaps, or your favorite dish. Maybe you think of the diet you’re on, or the food you’re cooking for your next dinner party. No matter … Read more

Accessibility within Communities to Quality Healthcare: Examining Racial Health Disparities

Racial health disparities are a critical and urgent issue that demands immediate attention in the United States. Underprivileged minority communities continue to face significant challenges in accessing quality healthcare and appropriate medical attention, while the shortage of healthcare infrastructure and … Read more

Impact of Residential Segregation on Healthcare Quality and Accessibility

Introduction “We were poor, but we didn’t realize it, you know … I can remember the times like when we’d get sick, we didn’t go to the doctor. I assume that we couldn’t afford it. But they had those remedies, … Read more

Communicating Over Language Barriers in Healthcare

Conversations surrounding patient autonomy have been at the crux of conversations on doctor-patient relationships for decades. Though existing conversations question and focus on the paternalistic model to view the way medical providers control their patients’ autonomy, this essay shifts focus … Read more