Document Type


Publication Date



Pan-African Studies


Current scholarly research, both sociologically and biologically based, continues to be inundated with notions of race operating as a biological construct and as a proxy for poor health outcomes. Medical research and practice have fostered an environment where diagnostics, treatment, and the creation and dissemination of drug regimens often are influenced by a patient’s skin color and ethnicity. The emergence of biological markers in social science-based surveys has fueled recent health disparities research that is shaping the meaning, interpretation, and policy of the health of people of color. Using hypertension as an example, this paper focuses on ways in which biological markers are discussed within the realm of health in the African diaspora. Additionally, the paper discusses how the quantification of disease etiology devoid of social and historical contexts can be troubling to both the social science and medical fields. Finally, the paper identifies the ways in which black scholars can shape the conversation of health inequity in future research.

Original Publication Information

This article was originally published in The Journal of Pan African Studies, volume 7, number 1, in June 2014.