New study reveals Blacks’ deep distrust of U.S. institutions

National Cancer Institute

Many see racial bias in health care system

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) and ESPN’s The Undefeated have recently conducted a joint nationwide study that focuses on African Americans’ views and experiences of being Black in America.

The survey examined Blacks’ views of unconscious bias and structural racism; experiences of discrimination within and outside of health care settings; trust in the health care system; the social and economic impacts of the pandemic; and views of a potential coronavirus vaccine.

The poll was conducted August 20 through September 14 in which 1,769 adults were interviewed, including 777 Blacks.

In addition to exploring the effects of the coronavirus, the Undefeated/KFF poll is one of the most expansive studies in recent years on Black people’s attitudes and experiences with health care, and the findings reveal how the experiences of Black and White communities differ.

Despite the disproportionate impact of the virus on Black communities, 49% of African Americans say they will not avail themselves of the vaccine even if it is deemed safe by scientists and/or medical experts and even if it is made available for free to anyone who wants it.

The vast majority of African Americans who said they would not take a coronavirus vaccine did not think that it would be properly tested, distributed fairly or developed with the needs of Black people in mind.

By comparison, two-thirds of Whites surveyed said they would either definitely or probably get vaccinated. And 60% of those with Latin or Hispanic background said they would get vaccinated.

“We have a centuries-long legacy in this country of basically Black people, in particular, and other people of color, as well, being treated poorly,” said Dr. Lisa A. Cooper, an internist who directs The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity in an interview with the Undefeated. “So why should Black people trust any institution? It has gone on for so long.”

The study indicated that Blacks in the U.S. have a deep distrust of the health care system.

Nearly six in 10 African Americans said they trust the nation’s health care system only some or almost none of the time to do what is right for their communities.

The study examined the impact of the COVID-19 on Black households finding that: 39% of Black adults said they know someone who has died from the coronavirus—nearly double the rate for White adults; the pandemic has left one-third of Black adults and nearly half of Black parents struggling to pay their bills, and that two out of three Black parents have either lost jobs or had their incomes interrupted since the pandemic struck in February.

The study also explored the experiences of Blacks in everyday life in the U.S. According to the survey, 58% of Black adults said they had experienced discrimination in just the past year. Twenty-five percent of Black respondents said they were discriminated against when dealing with police in traffic and other incidents. Twenty-eight percent said they experienced racial bias on the job, while 40% said they were treated unfairly while shopping. Yet another 20% shared that they experienced bias while seeking health care.

A large majority of Black Americans cited implicit bias as a major factor, both in preventing racial equality and as an obstacle in their own lives. What might have been the most revealing about where the country stands in the area of race relations is the fact that of the 70% of Blacks surveyed who said they were treated unfairly because of their race saw the discrimination as deliberate.

For more in-depth info about the survey, read the Undefeated story entitled, “New poll shows Black Americans see a racist health care system setting the stage for pandemic’s impact” on