The healthcare system in the United States of American is fraught with racism and discriminatory practices. Over time the racial health gap between white and Black folks continues to widen. To further explore how and why racial health disparities persist over time , I examine whether and how race and class inequalities contribute to intergenerational health disparities within Black communities. Additionally, I explore mechanisms responsible for the generational transmission of health disparities. Previous scholarship have indicated that Black folks have progressively worse health conditions relative to white people largely due to socioeconomic class inequalities. Although previous literature have shown the underpinnings of racial health inequalities, researchers fail to investigate whether and how these mechanisms extend across generations. Based on in-depth interviews of low-, middle-, and upper- class young Black adults, the study explores the role of neighborhood composition, client-provider relationships, and familial practices and involvement in healthcare. I find that quality healthcare resources are hoarded in white affluent neighborhoods, race and gender identity plays a large role in shaping the tone of client-provider relationships, and parental involvement and social class contribute to young adults’ seeking treatment. These findings suggest that racial health disparities persist over time through racial residential segregation, interpersonal and institutional racism, and the inheritance of cultural capital. These findings highlight that racial and class inequities not only shape health disparities for current generations , but they also may affect future generations access to quality healthcare.

Type of Work

Thesis - Limited Access

Department or Program



Hamilton College


Bachelor of Arts

Date of Graduation


Faculty Advisor

Matthew Grace

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.