"Intersectionality and the Language of Health Equity," Keisha Ray (McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics)

Apr 17, 2024, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
Wooten Hall, Room 301
Free and Open to the Public


Event Description


Health equity is typically conceptualized in terms of the social, economic, and environmental resources that we need for proper health. The COVID 19 pandemic, however, exposed just how much discrimination—in all its forms—can make us unhealthy by depriving us of these very resources needed for proper health outcomes. Using the example of Black people’s inequitable COVID-19 outcomes, and their health outcomes prior to the pandemic, I argue that the pandemic has forever changed how we should think about the conceptual and practical nature of health equity. From here on, we can no longer think of health equity without the concept of intersectionality. In particular, we must acknowledge that discrimination (e.g. sexism, ableism, racism, classism, etc.) within our social institutions intersect to withhold resources needed for health from people who themselves have intersecting identities that make them vulnerable to the effects of discrimination. In this presentation I offer an example of what a conception of health equity built from an intersectionality framework could look like.

Speaker Bio

Keisha Ray received her Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Utah. She is currently a tenured associate professor and holds the John P. McGovern, MD Professorship of Oslerian Medicine at the McGovern Center for Humanities & Ethics at UT Health Houston, where she also serves as the Director of the Medical Humanities Scholarly Concentration. Most of Dr. Ray’s work focuses on the effects of institutional racism on Black people's health, highlighting Black people's own stories, and the sociopolitical implications of biomedical enhancement. Her work uniquely prioritizes linguistic justice as a matter of access and commitment to public scholarship. Dr. Ray serves as an associate editor for the American Journal of Bioethics and its online site, "Bioethics Today." Dr. Ray has also been elected as a Hastings Center Fellow. She has contributed to top clinical, bioethics, and medical humanities journals. And based on her expertise, Dr. Ray is frequently called upon as a bioethics expert for popular news sources. Lastly, Dr. Ray is the author of the book “Black Health: The Social, Political, and Cultural Determinants of Black People’s Health” with Oxford University Press.