Systemic: How Racism is Making Us Sick (Hardcover)
Loyalty Silver Spring has Moved!
In the spirit of Medical Apartheid and Killing the Black Body; A science-based, data-driven, and global exploration of racial disparities in health care access by virologist, immunologist, and science journalist Layal Liverpool.
Layal Liverpool spent years as a teen bouncing from doctor to doctor, each one failing to diagnose her dermatological complaint. Just when she’d grown used to the idea that she had an extremely rare and untreatable skin condition, one dermatologist, after a quick exam, told her that she had a classic (and common) case of eczema and explained that it often appears differently on darker skin. Her experience stuck with her, making her wonder whether other medical conditions might be going undiagnosed in darker-skinned people and whether racism could, in fact, make people sick.
The pandemic taught us that diseases like Covid disproportionately affect people of color. Here, Liverpool goes a step further to show that this disparity exists for all types of illness and that it is caused by racism. In Systemic, Liverpool shares her journey to show how racism, woven into our societies, as well as into the structures of medicine and science, is harmful to our health. Refuting the false belief that there are biological differences between races, Liverpool goes on to show that racism-related stress and trauma can however, lead to biological changes that make people of color more vulnerable to illness, debunking the myth of illness as the great equalizer.
From the problem of racial bias in medicine where the default human subject is white, to the dangerous health consequences of systemic racism, from the physical and psychological effects of daily microaggressions to intergenerational trauma and data gaps, Liverpool reveals the fatal stereotypes that keep people of color undiagnosed, untreated, and unsafe, and tells us what we can do about it.
About the Author
Layal Liverpool is a science journalist with expertise in biomedical science, particularly virology and immunology. Her PhD research at Oxford focused on investigating how invading viruses are detected by the body’s immune system. Her writing has appeared in Nature, New Scientist, Wired, and the Guardian. Currently, she is a journalist at Nature.
"Systemic is an important new book about the relationship between racism, illness, and manufactured disability. Global in scope, Layal Liverpool takes us from Europe to the Americas, from Africa to Australia, illustrating the transnational scourge racism has on the health of the public the world over. Scientifically and technically masterful but never lacking heart, Liverpool draws upon her own lived experiences with vulnerability and grace, so that readers may better understand their own."
—Steven W. Thrasher, PhD, author of The Viral Underclass
"Across a global canvas Layal Liverpool deploys deep compassion, gut-wrenching testimony, and peerless scientific journalism to show how racism lives and kills. But then she guides us to a revelation: once we know the truth of racism, it’s possible to chart a way to a health system in which anti-racism is medicine. It’s a prescription that everyone needs. Start by reading, and then organize!"
—Raj Patel, co-author of Inflamed
"A groundbreaking, brilliantly argued book that debunks the myth that illness is the great equalizer. With a strong foundation in science and biology, Layal Liverpool unequivocally proves that addressing bias in medicine and data gaps in research will lead to a healthier and more equal world."
—Siddhartha Mukherjee, bestselling author of The Emperor of All Maladies, The Gene and The Song of the Cell
"Layal Liverpool has produced a work of towering importance that will undoubtedly change science and save lives, but it will also change the way you see yourself and the people around you. Systemic is beautifully written and scholarly but perhaps almost uniquely for such a book it is deeply personal and accessible, packed with compelling stories and fascinating details which are harnessed to make an impassioned argument for a better world."
—Chris Van Tulleken, NYT bestselling author of Ultra-Processed People