Angelina Jolie is using her platform to shed light on racial bias in health care, especially concerning domestic violence cases. The actor and activist spotlighted technology, allowing bruises to be visible on darker skin tones in an op-ed published July 5.
“As the mother of children of multiple races, I have seen my children of color be misdiagnosed, at times in ways that endangered their health,” Jolie, a mother to six children, including three of color, wrote.
The actor draws on the experience of her daughter Zahara, who is of Ethiopian descent, to highlight the inequalities that remain in the medical field.
“Reflecting personally, when my daughter Zahara, who is from Ethiopia, was hospitalized for a medical procedure, the nurse told me to call her ‘if she turns pink near her incisions,’” Jolie said. “I stood looking blankly at her, not sure she understood what was wrong with what she had said. When she left the room, I had a talk with my daughter, both of us knowing that we would have to look for signs of infection based on our own knowledge, not what the nurse had said, despite her undoubted good intentions.”
In her op-ed, she calls for new solutions regarding diversity and representation in health care. Jolie mentions that her family has “access to high-quality medical care” but that “simple diagnoses are missed because of race and continued prioritization of white skin in medicine.”
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The actor emphasizes the importance of technology to detect bruising on domestic violence survivors of color, who she says are “at a significant disadvantage in having their injuries properly identified and documented,” and “at greater risk for further abuse.”
Jolie has said Brad Pitt, her ex-husband, has been physically abusive toward her and their children in 2016. She filed for divorce that same year, according to Vanity Fair. Pitt’s attorney answered the claims and said the actor has “been on the receiving end of every type of personal attack and misrepresentation.” The divorce has not yet been finalized.
Jolie has been an outspoken activist regarding human rights and inequalities experienced by women and people of color. In February 2022, she helped introduce the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act to the U.S. Senate with her daughter Zahara. It was signed into law by President Joe Biden in March 2022.