Dec. 11 – Linda Villarosa – Under the Skin [Advent Calendar]

The Englewood Review of Books
Best Books of 2022
Advent Calendar
December 11


Under the Skin:
The Hidden Toll of Racism on American Lives and on the Health of Our Nation

Linda Villarosa

Hardback: Doubleday, 2021
Buy Now: [ IndieBound ]  [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]  [ Audible ]

“Under the Skin” offers an alternative understanding of this suffering, for which there is a long history. Black pain is not, and has never been, the fault of the individual, but a result of the structural racism embedded in the practice of medicine in this country. Many doctors avoid confronting this truth. Hearing Villarosa’s account of Landrum’s harrowing delivery, a group of white Midwestern doctors only questioned why Villarosa was allowed in the delivery room at all. “That was your takeaway?” she replied. “The denial of racial bias can be so extreme that no one believes you even when you have the evidence.”

In this eminently admirable book, there are no easy answers or platitudes. Even as Villarosa meticulously outlines the myriad ways Black people have fought for their own health, from social workers to doulas to community organizers, she stays focused on the nature of a structural problem, which cannot be changed through individual choices. In 1992, Villarosa asked Audre Lorde if she agreed that racism in America was “dying out.” In response, Lorde “warned me that when something dies, it doesn’t just fade away; it fights to the death, desperately clinging to life, and goes out ugly.” If racial bias in medicine is receding, Villarosa concludes, it’s certainly “going out ugly.”


WATCH a short conversation with Linda Villarosa about this book…


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Reading for the Common Good
From ERB Editor Christopher Smith

"This book will inspire, motivate and challenge anyone who cares a whit about the written word, the world of ideas, the shape of our communities and the life of the church."
-Karen Swallow Prior

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