The 39th annual Minority Health Conference spent an entire day tackling the relationship between false narratives of minorities and public health on Friday.
The conference, hosted by the Minority Student Caucus and UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, is the largest and longest running student-led health conference in the nation. Started in 1977 by the Minority Student Caucus, the conference has grown immensely since its conception, selling out this year with over 700 people registered for the conference and 20 group and 180 individual viewings of the webcast.
Graduate student Daijah Davis, communications co-chairperson of the conference, said one goal of the conference’s theme, “Reclaiming the Narrative,” was to help attendees recognize that perpetuated false narratives often impact the level of medical care people receive, especially minorities.
“We really wanted people to understand that there are all these narratives that we don’t even often times realize are being portrayed in the media and conversation and just realizing that they’re not always accurate,” Davis said. “We need to listen to different communities, and we need to talk to them and figure out what they need and how we can help them amplify their voices.”
Davis said childbirth mortality rates for both women and infants are the highest among African-Americans — and rising. False narratives often lead to negative stereotypes that allow people to place the responsibility of health disparities on minority individuals rather than the system creating those disparities.