Whitney Pirtle, "Beyond Controlling for Race: Utilizing Theoretically Informed Measures of Race/Ethnicity and Racism for Health Equity"

Blumer Room - 402 Social Sciences Building

Abstract: In 1996, Thomas LaVeist instructed social science health researchers to “continue to study race… but do a better job.” Reviews consistently suggests health studies control for race and ethnicity without defining, and often don’t account for racism. Dr. Pirtle will overview interventions of her empirical research, informed by critical race theory, that utilizes multidimensional measures of race and ethnicity, and structural measures of racism to explore health outcomes for Black, Latinx, and other populations of color. The talk demonstrates that using theoretically informed measures of race, ethnicity, and racism help us to do a better job refining our understanding of racialized health associations and clarifying mechanisms of racism in shaping health inequities.



Dr. Whitney Pirtle, is an Associate Professor of Sociology and McArthur Foundation Chair in International Justice and Human Rights at the University of California, Merced, where she directs the Sociology of Health and Equity (SHE) Lab. She received her B.A. form Grand Valley State University and earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from Vanderbilt University. Dr. Pirtle now holds interdisciplinary expertise in the areas of race and racism, health disparities and health equity, intersectionality and Black feminist sociology, and mixed methodologies.  In 2021, Dr. Pirtle published a path-breaking co-edited volume with Zakiya Luna, Black Feminist Sociology: Perspectives and Praxis. She is currently continuing her empirical research on Covid-19 racial health inequities and completing her book monograph on the transformation race in post-apartheid South Africa, Coloured-Blind: Racial Limbo in the Rainbow Nation. Dr. Pirtle is a former Ford Fellow and holds awards from the American Sociological Association and Association of Black Sociologists and is a recent recipient of the “Equity and Justice Award” from UC Merced.