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Date of Award

Spring 2021

Author's School

College of Arts & Sciences

Author's Program


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (A.B.)




The ongoing Covid-19 health crisis has had devastating impacts on families and communities across the country. However, the burdens of this tragedy are not shared equally. Black Americans have experienced a disproportionate number of infections and deaths from Covid-19 compared to white Americans. The disparities brought to light by this pandemic are not new, but are reflective of a much deeper history of racial health inequity. The city of St. Louis provides an important lens by which to view these inequities, as a long history racial discrimination and segregation have created an unequal landscape along overlapping lines of class and race. The ability to live a healthy life depends on a wide variety of social and economic resources that have been widely unavailable to Black Americans throughout history, primarily as a consequence of structural racism. This thesis seeks to uncover and understand the ways in which structural racism reinforces unequal economic, social, and environmental conditions and ultimately underlies the persistent health disparities faced by Black Americans. These fundamental inequities have placed Black Americans in a position of greater vulnerability and risk of poor health outcomes, and are consequently mirrored in the disparate toll of Covid-19 along racial lines. The tragedies of the past year have brought growing recognition to the urgency by which this legacy of systemic disadvantage must be addressed. In order to ameliorate disparate health outcomes in Black Americans, it is imperative to recognize and understand the social and structural factors that underpin racial inequities in health.


Anna Jacobsen

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