Why Are There So Few Black Women Doctors?

Documentarian Crystal Emery breaks down the reasons behind the 2 percent.

by Patia Braithwaite
Feb 8 2017, 9:57pm

When I found that only 2 percent of practicing physicians in the United States are black women, I had trouble processing the thought. I am a black woman (not a physician) and my life is filled with fierce black female healers. But of course, anecdotal perceptions don't overridestatistics. The lack of representation is real, systemic, and it robs power and dignity from these women. Take, for example, the Delta Airlines flight attendant who implied that physician Tamika Cross (responding to an emergency on the plane) was not an "actual" doctor.

Writer and documentarian Crystal Emery provides both context and hope around this issue. As a black woman with a disability, Emery understands the insidious form of oppression that arises when people underestimate your capabilities. Her most recent project, a documentary called  Black Women in Medicine, explores the unique barriers and triumphs that black women doctors face. This work (which includes her companion book,  Against All Odds: Celebrating Black Women in Medicine) is part of a multi-faceted initiative called Changing the Face of Medicine, which aims to increase the percentage of African American physicians in America by 2025. I spoke to Emery about her new project.

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