Time to take critical race theory seriously: moving beyond a colour-blind gender lens in global health

Elsevier, The Lancet Global Health, 2021, ISSN 2214-109X
Eileen A Yam, Martha Silva, Malini Ranganathan, Jamila White, Tonija M Hope, and Chandra L Ford

In 2020, as worldwide protests demanded racial justice, the COVID-19 pandemic shed a stark light on racial inequities in global health: one need look no further than the disproportionate burden shouldered by Black and other racial minority groups in the Americas and Europe. Yet, despite the purported racial reckoning of the moment, the global health community has been slow to consciously centre race in our work. We now call upon our colleagues, particularly influencers in high-income countries, to meaningfully engage with critical race theory, a transdisciplinary intellectual movement to understand and disrupt systemic racism. Of particular relevance to these efforts is the concept of intersectionality, a central tenet of critical race theory coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw to describe how multiple social categorisations—such as race and gender—interact and confer interlocking oppressions and privileges. This intentional centring of race in global health will help to achieve the mutually reinforcing goals of eradicating both racial and gender inequity. As a point of departure, we articulate the multiple racial contexts of the global health sector, with the aim of moving beyond a colour-blind gender lens.