“A million other factors killing us”: Black women's health and refusing necropolitics-as-usual during COVID-19

Megan A. Carney, Debi Chess, Deyanira Ibarra, Kianna Dieudonne, Michelle Rascon-Canales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Ongoing social, economic, and political marginalization combined with racialized gender violence has sentenced Black women in the United States to disproportionate harm in the form of premature illness and death. Despite widespread recognition within the medical social sciences, public health, and social work of the health inequities that unevenly impact Black women, as a population, their suffering continues to be overlooked and marginalized in biomedical research, healthcare institutions, and health policy. This omission contributes to the naturalization and normalization of heightened morbidity and mortality of Black women. In this article, we draw from theory on necropolitics, misogynoir, and Black ecologies of care in analyzing findings from semi-structured interviews conducted between February and June 2021 with African American women (n = 16) who were experiencing a chronic health condition or caring for someone with a chronic health condition in Tucson, Arizona. Interviews explored women's healthcare-seeking behaviors, experiences with healthcare providers, and self-care and caregiving during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our findings suggest that necropolitical logics in the form of naturalization and normalization of Black women's suffering – and of the structures that render such suffering – permeated but did not entirely define women's experiences of the pandemic, including how they navigated biomedical spaces and negotiated interactions with healthcare providers, engaged in practices of care (including self-care), and perceived and made meaning of their own health statuses. We advance a Black ecologies of care framework: (1) to make visible and hold accountable necropolitical structures in tabulations of morbidity and mortality; and (2), despite the myriad harms represented in logics of necropolitics-as-usual, to foreground the life-affirming practices by women that persist nevertheless.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number116051
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • Black ecologies of care
  • Black women's health
  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • Misogynoir
  • Necropolitics
  • United States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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