Rethinking Imbalances of Power Through Health Communication

Challenges for Scholars, Practitioners, and Activists

Authored by: Angela Cooke-Jackson , Andrew Spieldenner , Nicole Hudak , Crystal Ben

The Routledge Handbook of Health Communication

Print publication date:  September  2021
Online publication date:  September  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367488956
eBook ISBN: 9781003043379
Adobe ISBN:


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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) acknowledge that racial disparities across a range of health conditions deeply impact marginalized and vulnerable Black, Latinx (a/o), Native/First People, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people with disabilities. This chapter calls upon health communication scholars and practitioners to respond to the ways in which identities and terms that have historically located the aforementioned groups on the margins create and exacerbate health disparities. We encourage researchers to shift systemic and oppressive ways of knowing often ingrained in our assumptions about what it means to be healthy and ill and how we approach disease and illnesses. Health communication can be a powerful intervention in health disparities across race and other kinds of marginalization. So, this chapter is a call to action to (a) contest historical constructs located in marginalized identities, (b) describe extant oppressive systems, and (c) address the why and how of the prevalence of health disparities among historically disenfranchised people groups.

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