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Author Archive: Keisha Ray

About Keisha Ray


by Keisha Ray, PhD

Here is a list of just some of the things that contribute to Black people’s inequitable access to proper health outcomes and health care:

Structural and Institutional racism

Interpersonal racism and race-related stressors

Healthcare providers’ biases

Health care policies

Lack of political power

Inequitable voting rights

Incarceration rates

Inequitable access to social determinants of health

Environmental racism

Birthing mortality

Police brutality

Poverty

Minimum wage policies

No universal health care, childcare, or parental leave

Inequitable student loan debt

Racist housing policies

Yet, now we have pig hearts.

In a Baltimore hospital, in early January 2022, transplant surgeons put a heart from a genetically modified pig into a 57-year-old human being.…

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by Keisha Ray, PhD and Faith E. Fletcher, PhD, MA 

Recently Leah Pierson wrote the essay “Becoming a Bioethicist is Expensive. That’s a Problem.” This essay rightly pointed out the hefty financial costs associated with becoming a bioethicist. Although Pierson’s remarks were spot on, they noted that the commentary was not unique to bioethics. For example, Pierson, pointed out the enormous costs of tuition. Outrageous tuition bills, however, can be an obstacle to anyone who is not wealthy or who does not receive full scholarships. Still, as Black bioethicists, when we read the essay, we felt disconnected from it. Not all essays about bioethics must speak to every demographic group, but as Black bioethicists, we did not see ourselves in this one. While financial…

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by Keisha Ray, PhD

If you are a bioethicist who even casually engages with social media, specifically Twitter, you cannot miss the frequent posts and tweets where a bioethicist and/or academic physician announces that they are leaving academia. Their reasons for leaving academia typically range from salary complaints, dissatisfaction with their institution’s administration, being overworked, not having the resources needed to do their job well, a lack of job security, marginalization, and other complaints, often contributing to their experiences of burnout and mental distress. I haven’t done any formal research but from my casual observations, as the pandemic progresses, it appears that I am seeing more resignation announcements, likely because the pandemic has worsened these issues and added others such as dissatisfaction with their institutions’ COVID-19 policies (e.g.…

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by Keisha Ray, PhD

Originally presented at “Race and Bioethics: Amplifying Diverse Voices,” sponsored by Columbia University Bioethics. See it here: link

My co-panelists and I have been tasked with thinking about the ways that bioethics does, or in most cases, does not consider issues of race, including racism, and systemic health inequities. Although I am very happy to have this opportunity to speak about bioethics because it is something very dear to me, and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else, this opportunity feels like another moment where a bioethicist of color has to defend her work, her place in bioethics, and hope that White bioethicists see the value of her work and the value of Black bioethicists.…

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by Keisha Ray PhD and Jane Cooper MBE

One of the inequities to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic is an increase in the disproportionate effects of environmental toxins on poor people and/or people of color. Additionally, during the pandemic Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people disproportionately experienced higher rates of Covid-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths from the virus. New research, however, has revealed a link between air pollution and likelihood of death from Covid-19; people who live in highly polluted areas are more likely to die once they have the Covid-19 virus. Given that poor people and people of color are more likely to live in polluted areas than wealthy and White people, and they are more likely to be infected and die from the Covid-19 virus, environmental toxins are one of the many obstacles to equitable health independent of race and wealth status. …

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 by Keisha Ray, PhD

One of the social determinants of health is housing. Although in my work I discuss all of the social determinants of health, I tend to focus on the importance of housing because where we live, our zip code, with whom we live, the country, state, and city we live in can tell us a lot about people’s access to healthy food, recreation areas, clean water and air, and public transportation. Where a person lives can also tell us about their proximity to crime, environmental toxins (e.g. landfills, etc), which are all social determinants of health. Housing is an important determinant of health in its own right but it also tells us about people’s access to other determinants of health.  …

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By Keisha Ray, PhD 

I have been interviewed by many journalists who are writing articles about the COVID-19 vaccines and Black people. Most of the interviews are very similar; journalists want to know how do medicine’s and public health’s past abuses of Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people affect their willingness to trust medicine and get vaccinated against COVID-19. After making it clear that it is not people of color (POC) that need to work on their trust of medicine but that it is medicine who needs to work on its ability to be trusted, I tell journalists that medicine must do three things: 1) Acknowledge the problem, namely that medicine is not trustworthy in the eyes of many POC; 2) Apologize for past and current abuses of POCs bodies and minds and apologize for medicine’s role in structural racial inequality; and 3) Correct the way it treats POC, including remedying provider bias and racially biased diagnostic and therapeutic tools. …

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Calling health care workers, heroes when you put this many people in a stadium is nothing but lip service.

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by Keisha Ray, PhD

In the past I have written on the concept of Black bioethics and when a mob of White domestic terrorists attacked the US Capitol last week I couldn’t help but think of the health of Black people watching these attacks. I thought of the psychological effects, such as mental anguish and anxiety they would cause for Black people. I thought of the stress these attacks must cause Black people and the very real adverse biological effects of stress on Black people, a population who already has disproportionate rates of hypertension and cardiovascular disease, all which are worsened by stress. I thought of the health effects of feeling disturbed, angry, sad, marginalized, mistreated, and all the other emotions we can imagine Black people might feel after seeing images of White people cause terror with little to no punishment from law enforcement and instead receiving kindness and understanding for their emotions and actions. The…

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by Keisha Ray, Ph.D.

With Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna/National Institutes of Health producing a viable vaccine for COVID-19 (along with two other companies on the precipice of also producing viable vaccines) and with distribution set to begin in just a few weeks for many health care providers, people have questions about when they will receive the vaccine. The New York Times has created a vaccine calculator in which you can input information about yourself such as your age and whether you have pre-existing conditions which make you vulnerable to COVID-19, and other information to then get an estimate of when you can expect to get the vaccine. On the CDC website the agency has answered a series of questions about the vaccine, including questions about the cost of the vaccine (no cost to the individual, although some providers can charge an administration fee that can be covered by public and private health insurance or government relief fund for people without insurance). Whereas…

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