Williams is one of the best tennis players, and arguably athletes, of all time. But last year, they shared similar stories: Each experienced life-threatening complications in their pregnancies. In that one way, these two superstars are just like millions of other black women in the United States.
‘Get a lock on the bedroom door’: how to have a sex life when you've got children
‘Not about being white or black’
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In this paper we use newly available data from the Relationship Dynamics and Social Life RDSL study to compare a wide range of attitudes related to pregnancy for Black and white young women. We also investigate the extent to which race differences are mediated by, or net of, family background, childhood socioeconomic status, adolescent experiences related to pregnancy, and current socioeconomic status. Black women are less positive, in general, than white women, toward young non-marital sex, contraception, and childbearing, and have less desire for sex in the upcoming year. This is largely because Black women are more religious than white women, and in part because they are more socioeconomically disadvantaged in young adulthood. However, in spite of these less positive attitudes, Black women are more likely to expect sex without contraception in the next year, and to expect more positive consequences if they were to become pregnant, relative to white women. This is largely because, relative to white women, Black women have higher rates of sex without contraception in adolescence, and in part because they are more likely to have grown up with a single parent. It is unclear whether attitudes toward contraception and pregnancy preceded or are a consequence of adolescent sex without contraception. Some race differences remain unexplained — net of all potential mediators in our models, Black women have less desire for sex in the upcoming year, but are less willing to refuse to have sex with a partner if they think it would make him angry, and expect more positive personal consequences of a pregnancy, relative to white women. In spite of these differences, Black women's desires to achieve and to prevent pregnancy are very similar to white women's desires. The unequal distribution of teen and unintended pregnancies by race is an important health-related disparity, alongside others, including infant mortality, life expectancy, and chronic disease e.
Black women in the United States experience unacceptably poor maternal health outcomes, including disproportionately high rates of death related to pregnancy or childbirth. Both societal and health system factors contribute to high rates of poor health outcomes and maternal mortality for Black women, who are more likely to experience barriers to obtaining quality care and often face racial Black women are three to four times more likely to experience a pregnancy-related death than white women. Due to racism, sexism and other systemic barriers that have contributed to income inequality, Black women are typically paid just 63 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. Retrieved 4 April , available here. These lost wages mean Black women and their families have less money to support themselves and their families, and may have to choose between essential resources like housing, child care, food and health care. Biennial Health Insurance Survey , Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Department of Health and Human Services.