Law and Black Health: Cradle to Grave – 6829

Spring 2024

When Serena Williams almost died in childbirth, it was an international moment for many to ask, "Why doesn't socioeconomic status eliminate American Descendants of Slavery from experiencing racism?" What is the debt that Black Americans inherit, is it a legal assault on Black health?  Topics that the course will cover, "How does law intentionally or unintentionally create obstacles and barriers that cause negative health outcomes in all aspects of Black life?" The course will examine with historical context the long term and present day effects specific laws and case precedent have on Black Americans from Birth to Death. The journey begins with pre-contemplation of birth and the practice of sterilization and eugenics and moves throughout gestations, Classified, upon birth, as "Black," citizens face barriers to access rights and services afforded United States citizens guaranteed by law. The course questions how the lack of access to resources remains permissible under current law and looks at how it has impacted everything from the Black infant mortality and maternal health rates, maturation, family structure, housing, education, stability, and life expectancy. Further, we examine what economic legacies to Black Americans begin with from past generations and the transfer of intergenerational wealth. Lastly we examine how law actively worked against protecting the dignity of caring for Black Americans ancestor's final remains as it permitted Black bodies to be buried in unmarked mass graves, experimented on without consent, and dishonored.