In 2018, Linda Villarosa's New York Times Magazine article on maternal and infant mortality among black mothers and babies in America caused an awakening. Hundreds of studies had previously established a link between racial discrimination and the health of Black Americans, with little progress toward solutions. But Villarosa's article exposing that a Black woman with a college education is as likely to die or nearly die in childbirth as a white woman with an eighth grade education made racial disparities in health care impossible to ignore. Now, in Under the Skin, Linda Villarosa lays bare the forces in the American health-care system and in American society that cause Black people to "live sicker and die quicker" compared to their white counterparts.
Remarkable ... She repositions various narratives about race and medicine — the soaring Black maternal mortality rates; the rise of heart disease and hypertension; the oft-repeated dictum that Black people reject psychological therapy — as evidence not of Black inferiority, but of racism in the health care system ... Singular and expansive ... Under the Skin offers an alternative understanding of...suffering, for which there is a long history. Black pain is not, and has never been, the fault of the individual, but a result of the structural racism embedded in the practice of medicine in this country ... In this eminently admirable book, there are no easy answers or platitudes.
Brilliant, illuminating ... Meticulously researched, sweeping in its historical breadth, damning in its clear-eyed assessment of facts and yet hopeful in its outlook, Under the Skin is a must-read for all who affirm that Black lives matter. It will be especially eye-opening for anyone who believes that wealth, education and access to quality medical services are the great equalizers.
... wonderfully written. It’s not an inaccessible academic work or a polemic. Rather, its points are made amid moving narratives of real people’s experiences. The book also serves as a stake in the ground for Villarosa as she powerfully discloses what years of reporting have led her to understand: 'The something that is making Black Americans sicker is not race per se, or the lack of money, education, information, and access to health services that can be tied to being Black in America. It is also not genes or something inherently wrong or inferior about the Black body. The something is racism.'