Date of Award

January 2024

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Danya Keene

Second Advisor

Chelsey R. Carter


While it is important that racial health equity research receive growing attention in theUnited States, doing so must involve a thorough recognition and interrogation of the role that structural racism plays in creating different outcomes for Black communities. History aids in making clear the process through which race can become biology as structural racism is embodied by members of Black communities. Guided by Táíwò’s conceptualization of “resource distribution and accumulation” as well as Carter’s discussion of “racialized local biologies”, this cross-sectional meta-research analysis sought to investigate when and how racial health equity research after 2020 utilized local history to understand and eliminate racial health inequities faced by Black communities. Of the 27 articles included in this analysis, nearly 60% of them used racism at the structural level to frame, contextualize, or analyze racial health inequities. In over 80% of studies, the scope of the study population was at the local level or smaller. However, only six (22%) used history as context for understanding or eliminating inequities for Black communities, and only four (15%) used history at the local level. These findings provide evidence not only of the severe neglect of utilize local histories in health equity research, but also finds that history, in general, is absent when researchers investigate structural racism to advance health justice for Black communities. While the field of public health has done considerable work to shift its focus from individual behavior change to social determinants of health, it falls short of actualizing a greater potential without troubling how those determinants are siphoned along socially constructed lines, like race, by structural forces. History can help researchers fuel this inquiry moving forward.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access