An event-by-event look at how institutionalized racism harms the health of African Americans in the twenty-first century
A crucial component of anti-Black racism is the unconscionable disparity in health outcomes between Black and white Americans. Sickening examines this institutionalized inequality through dramatic, concrete events from the past two decades, revealing how unequal living conditions and inadequate medical care have become routine.
From the spike in chronic disease after Hurricane Katrina to the lack of protection for Black residents during the Flint water crisis—and even the life-threatening childbirth experience for tennis star Serena Williams—author Anne Pollock takes readers on a journey through the diversity of anti-Black racism operating in healthcare. She goes beneath the surface to deconstruct the structures that make these events possible, including mass incarceration, police brutality, and the hypervisibility of Black athletes’ bodies. Ultimately, Sickening shows what these shocking events reveal about the everyday racialization of health in the United States.
Concluding with a vital examination of racialized healthcare during the COVID pandemic and the Black Lives Matter rebellions of 2020, Sickening cuts through the mind-numbing statistics to vividly portray healthcare inequalities. In a gripping and passionate style, Pollock shows the devastating reality and consequences of systemic racism on the lives and health of Black Americans.
1. Terrorism: The Deaths of Black Postal Workers in the 2001 Anthrax Attacks
2. Un/natural Disaster: Chronic Disease after Hurricane Katrina
3. Mass Incarceration: On the Suspended Sentences of the Scott Sisters
4. Environmental Racism: Protecting GM’s Machines While Abandoning Flint’s People
5. Police Brutality: Enforcing Segregation at a Pool Party
6. Reproductive Injustice: Serena Williams’ Birth Story
Anne Pollock is an Assistant Professor of Science and Technology Studies at Georgia Tech.
"Anne Pollock offers a model and method for situating everyday forms of anti-Blackness within a larger machinery of death-making that—whether it grinds people down slowly or extinguishes them swiftly—counts on our inability to connect the dots. Riveting, infuriating, and essential, Sickening reminds us that neither statistics nor structural analysis will save us, and all those committed to social change must heed the stories we tell (and are told) about racism and inequity if we are to get free."—Ruha Benjamin, author of Race After Technology
"For all the ink that has been spilled on racial disparities in disease, there is frustratingly little attention to how racism works and why it both developed and persists. With Sickening, Anne Pollock meticulously illustrates several key theoretical and conceptual principles on race and racism, such as their durability, that have not yet been fully developed in the field of science and technology studies."—Lundy Braun, author of Breathing Race into the Machine: The Surprising Career of the Spirometer from Plantation to Genetics
"A crucial guided analysis of anti-Blackness and its impact on Black people’s ability to live as fully entitled citizens, Pollock’s scholarship is essential medicine for a society in denial about its sickness."—Foreword
"This book offers us the tools to think and act critically about workable solutions, as we recognize injustice and realize our part in dismantling systems of inequities. "—Colors of Influence
"Sickening is a great book for opening minds, encouraging action, and inspiring advocacy for justice."—American Scientist
"In a gripping and passionate style, Pollock shows the devastating reality and consequences of systemic racism on the lives and health of Black Americans. "—The Washington Informer
"In Sickening, Pollock demonstrates the breadth of her expertise on racism and health, including drawing on major Black leaders in the field—a point she notes has been lacking in research."—Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law