Racism and structural oppression have caused systemic inequities in healthcare. It’s one of our missions to bring those inequities to light and to tell the stories of those who haven’t had their stories told.
We also know that racism, rather than race, is what contributes to poor health outcomes among People of Color. All new content we produce is informed by this truth.
Our content aims to provide health information, resources, and empowerment for people of all races and ethnicities.
In many contexts, race is a relevant part of our reporting and content. We always specify race when it’s relevant. And in all cases, we take careful consideration to avoid generalizations and to encourage conversation.
We use racial terms consistently and accurately. When citing a study or relaying statistics, our content matches the terminology about race used within that study. And when those terms are outdated or offensive, we explain why they’re problematic and why they should be avoided.
It’s also vital for us to call out any inconsistencies or limitations within medical studies or literature based on racism and racial inequities in healthcare.
Additionally, our content doesn’t describe racial and ethnic groups as “minorities.” Often, this isn’t accurate; for example, the majority of the world’s population are People of Color. Using the term “minorities” reduces oppression to a numbers consideration when the important factors are systems of power and oppression.
We find that “marginalized” is often a better term to describe these groups. Not only is this term more accurate, it also helps call out past and current racist tendencies and behaviors.
Research shows that minorities experience higher infant mortality rates → Groups historically marginalized through racism experience higher mortality rates
Race is a factor in determining health → Racism is a factor in determining health
The attacks were racially motivated → The attacks were carried out by a group with racist beliefs
Associating certain types of sexual activity with a person’s moral character has historically led to groups being excluded from society or being seen as “abnormal” or “amoral.”
Using neutral language in sexual health does not make suggestions as to who someone is as a person. Rather, it provides information in a way that does not shame, judge, or assign blame.
Providing accurate, empathetic, and non-judgmental sexual health information is the first step in preventing unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and HIV through the promotion of healthy sexual behaviors.
Race is a way of categorizing people based on skin color. Racism is a way of organizing these categories into a hierarchy, with lighter skin at the top and darker skin at the bottom. This organization is known as a “system,” and it is these systems that affect a person's health based on their position in this system.
This system plays a large part in determining what neighborhood a person lives in, what school they attend, what community they belong to, what hospitals and doctors they can visit, and what jobs they can obtain. Institutions have played and continue to play a large role in these systems of oppression. Individuals can also be complicit in these structures, but they can take active steps to dismantle them.
Focusing on these systems as well as the individual person acknowledges that people generally make the best choices available to them, and we should work toward improving people’s environments to improve health.
Our Racism, Race, and Ethnicity Guiding Principles
While it would be much easier to list the definitive do’s and don’ts of language, that is not possible — context is critical. Language is always changing and evolving, and any list would soon be out of date. This is why we're always listening for changes. Additionally, there are no definitively "right" or "wrong" answers about what language to use. Context is important, and what works for us might not work for you. While specific word choices will change over time, our community approach first ensures that we are prioritizing those who are the most important to what we do: our readers. See full approach here.