‘Rational Distrust’ of Healthcare System Boosts Racial Disparities from COVID-19, KU Associate Professor Says

TOPEKA – As racial inequalities linked to COVID-19 persist in Kansas, an associate professor argues that the difficulties persuading many Americans in communities of color to get vaccinated stem from a rational distrust of the HIV system. health.

Eligible black Kansans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at a rate of 38% and Indigenous Kansans at a rate of about 18% compared to their white counterparts at 53%. Latino Kansans are vaccinated at a lower rate and have contracted COVID-19 at a faster rate than non-Latino people across the state.

In one essay in the Seton Hall ReviewNajarian Peters, associate professor of law at the University of Kansas, said a pandemic of racial inequality has led to the current state of mistrust between people of color and the health, legal and policies.

“The hesitation at the start, along with some of the residual skepticism, comes from what I call rational mistrust,” Peters said. “We are navigating rational mistrust during the pandemic because prior to COVID-19 America was grappling with the pandemic of racial inequality underpinned by the anti-law enforcement approach and policies that would root out inequity. “

Entitled “Parallel Pandemics: The American Problem of Anti Enforcement, Rational Distrust and COVID-19,” his essay argues that the lived experience imposed on racially marginalized people has created distrust of systems that often reinforce marginalization. The pervasive inequalities highlighted throughout “the beginnings of progress followed by backsliding and deep compromise” fostered an unease that continues today, Peters said.

These inequalities and sources of mistrust are present in today’s healthcare system, said Peters. For example, in the March of Dimes 2020 Premature Births report, referencing data from 2016 to 2018, the preterm birth rate of African American women in Kansas was 51% higher than that of all the other women, at 13.6%.

According to the Kansas Maternal Mortality Report of those same years, African American women accounted for 14% of pregnancy-related deaths, but only 7.1% of births in Kansas.

“The disparities in health care for racially marginalized people seeking help and care in health facilities are a historical fact – the most famous of which include the experiences of Tuskegee and Henrietta Lacks,” said Peters.

To address the lack of trust in these communities, people must first look to and accept the history of racial marginality in this area, Peters said. She said campaigns to improve COVID-19 vaccination rates would benefit from understanding the unease exhibited by racially marginalized people.

“If, as we say, we intend to eliminate COVID-19, we cannot do it by returning to normal, because normality is what has created the pandemic parallels of health disparities. based on race and social marginalization, ”said Peters. “The pandemic – including the rollout of the vaccine – offers opportunities to become a real version of what this nation has always claimed to be. “

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