Why Anti-Racism Research Matters in Health Care

Miamon Queeglay, 2021
Miamon Queeglay (ThreeSixty Journalism/Christine Nguyen)

“The Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity, founded by Dr. Rachel Hardeman, focuses on disrupting racist practice within public health, whether it’s barriers to accessing health or wealth,” said Miamon Queeglay, a public health professional and manager of community engaged research and outreach at the University of Minnesota. 

Antiracism research in the health field can save people’s lives and protect them from racism rooted within the health systems. That is why the work Queeglay and Hardeman are doing is important and necessary, and why we should fuel these types of projects so that people of color are able to access a health care system that gives them the best care possible — without the concern that because of how they look that will not happen. 

In her role, Queeglay conducts research while simultaneously engaging the community around challenges and solutions they face. These communities are predominantly those who are negatively impacted by their socioeconomic status, often lacking resources such as transportation and access to education that might set them back from sharing their voice to have better care in the future, she said. 

Centering the experiences and the voice of the community is core to the center’s work. 

A big area of research is around maternal and infant health, including the health of women during pregnancy, giving birth, postpartum and the baby’s first year of life. This focus on Black mothers and families seeks to identify inequities based on their race so that the center can provide better levels of care.  

The center is also working on policy changes to educate providers and professors, giving them the tools to have greater cultural competency, reduce discrimination and give overall better care to those families. 

Queeglay said providing an understanding of how the research being done will benefit the health of non-white people will help to reduce health care discrimination caused by institutionalized racism. 

She’s concerned about high maternal mortality rates in the U.S., especially in comparison to other developed countries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black, American Indian and Alaska Native women are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women, 

There has been some progress. The Minnesota House of Representatives recently passed a bill that took into account Hardeman’s research focused on perinatal and postpartum care to provide them access to affordable health care before and after pregnancy, Queeglay said. 

For Queeglay, the issue of health inequality is personal. When she was younger she advocated for her father, an immigrant from Liberia who had underlying health conditions caused by “fleeing the war and other aspects of that was just stress, navigating the United States and Minnesota particularly,” she said. 

Queeglay’s work centers on future generations having health care professionals who are conscious of the diversities of communities to better provide better care for their patients as part of those communities. The hope is that this will improve health outcomes for non-white populations.

These reports on health equity were created by ThreeSixty Journalism’s summer 2021 News Reporter Academy high school students. The Academy and its theme of racism as a public health crisis were supported by Center for Prevention at Blue Cross Blue Shield, which connected students with story topics and sources.