Minority Health Archive

“There Wasn't a Lot of Comforts in Those Days:” African Americans, Public Health, and the 1918 Influenza Epidemic

Gamble, Vanessa Northington (2010) “There Wasn't a Lot of Comforts in Those Days:” African Americans, Public Health, and the 1918 Influenza Epidemic. Public Health Reports, 125 (S3). pp. 114-122. ISSN 0033-3549

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When the 1918 influenza epidemic began, African American communities were already beset by many public health, medical, and social problems, including racist theories of black biological inferiority, racial barriers in medicine and public health, and poor health status. To address these problems, African Americans mounted efforts such as establishing separate hospitals and professional organizations and repudiating racist scientific theories. Contradicting prevailing theories about African Americans' increased susceptibility to disease, it appears that during the 1918 epidemic the incidence of influenza was lower in African Americans. Although the epidemic had a less devastating impact on African American communities, it still overwhelmed their medical and public health resources. Observations about the lower rates of influenza in African Americans did not derail racist theories about the biological inferiority of black people or overturn conceptualizations of black people as disease threats to white people. When the epidemic ended, the major problems that African Americans faced still remained.

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Item Type: Article
Additional Information: After clicking on link, scroll down the page to find article. This article is available at the publisher’s Web site. Access to the full text is subject to the publisher’s access restrictions.
Uncontrolled Keywords: 1918 influenza epidemic, racial barriers in medicine
Subjects: Health > Health Equity
Health > Public Health
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Depositing User: Users 141 not found.
Date Deposited: 26 May 2011 13:19
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2011 10:26
Link to this item (URI): http://health-equity.lib.umd.edu/id/eprint/2524

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