Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


W.M. Keck Science Department

Reader 1

Alicia Bonaparte

Reader 2

John Milton

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© 2015 Sesa E. Bakenra-Tikande


“We carry our histories in our bodies, how could we not?” – Nancy Krieger

In the United States and abroad, socioeconomic status (income, education, and occupation) greatly impacts health outcomes for a given population. There is a strong and consistent socioeconomic gradient within health outcomes which has been documented as far back as in Ancient Egypt and China (Krieger, Willains, & Moss, 1997; Liberatos, Link, & Kelsey, 1988) The general trend shows that individuals with higher socioeconomic status generally enjoy lower rates of morbidity (disease) and disability, which can ultimately lead to higher mortality rates (House et al. (1992) and House et al. (1994); Williams & Collins, 1995). Most of the literature focuses on the impact of race or gender on socioeconomic status and therefore health status, but rarely is the intersectionality of both race and gender—a factor in the lives of all Afro-American women—the focus of this inquiry. This research views socioeconomic factors in light of historical and sociological conditions which shape present urban environments in which Black women lives and grow. The goal of this thesis is to analyze the ways in which socioeconomic (particularly educational attainment) inequities lead to decreased health status of Afro-American women living in urban slums who fail to graduate high school. This research investigates the long-term effects of a) residential and educational segregation (b) racism and sexism within the educational system (c) racism and sexism within the healthcare system and (d) implications for morbidity and mortality rates amongst Afro-American women with respect to differences in educational attainment and high school dropout status. More research on this topic is necessary to better understand the direct correlation between educational attainment and health status among minority groups in the United States.


Dedicated to: Essie Jackson, Mamie Jackson, Aiyana Stanley-Jones

“Car Dieu ne choisit pas les [gens] capables, mais rende plutôt capable ceux qu’il choisisse.”

-Serge Beynaud