This theory and interview-based study examines the effects gentrification has on the Black maternal mortality rate in Washington, D.C., how the United States’ medical system perceives Black [cisgender] women’s bodies, and society’s reaction to this particular public health crisis. Theories by Émile Durkheim, Georg Simmel, and Patricia Hill Collins are used to conceptualize different factors of this crisis including the change of urban spaces and societal indifference to this particular public health crisis. This study is pertinent because Black mothers are 243 percent more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth related causes (CDC 2018). In Washington, D.C., the Black maternal mortality rate is 70.9 per 100,00 live births; which is nearly double the national average (CDC 2018). Semi-structured interviews with women who have given birth in Washington, D.C., and data on patterns of change in neighborhoods and women receiving early pre-natal care were used to shape this study. In this paper, I argue that gentrification is a large contributor to the alarming maternal mortality that is occurring throughout this country, but more specifically, in Washington, D.C. Gentrification has created a displacement amongst Black residents throughout Washington, D.C. This displacement, I argue, has infiltrated itself into the medical field and is impacting the lives of Black women. The historical exploitation and experimentation of Black women has created the perception that Black women’s bodies are solely for capitalistic profit and when these expectations are not met, Black women are faced with deathly consequences. Though socioeconomic class, education level, etc. are important to consider when discussing health disparities, it is imperative that the institutions which exist in society as are analyzed as well.


Fitz Gibbon, Heather


Sociology and Anthropology


Family, Life Course, and Society | Gender and Sexuality | Medicine and Health | Race and Ethnicity | Sociology | Urban Studies and Planning

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2019 Monét Simone Davis