Good News: Black Women’s Life Expectancy Longer Than Everyone Else

December 14, 2016  |  

I tend to avoid studies about Black women. Usually, they’re not all that positive or uplifting and you find yourself feeling a bit discouraged after ingesting the information. But today, I found something quite good.

Earlier this week, I was in the elevator and I read the news that the life expectancy in the United States had dropped for the first time in twenty-five years. I remember thinking, ‘Dang, 2016 really is the bearer of bad news.’ And then I tried to focus on something else. I really can’t let bad news penetrate my spirit like that.


Today though I found that while the average life expectancy is decreasing for everyone else, Black women are holding strong. According to the CDC, while the life expectancies are lower for White men, women and Black men, Black and Hispanic women are maintaining the average at 78 years.

The Albuquerque Journal, said that these results might be surprising considering “Black women are disproportionately overweight, overworked, overlooked and underpaid, you’d think they would be on the verge of extinction.”

But y’all for better or worse, we’re built for this. We triumph in spite of the obstacles.

Linda Goler Blount, president of and chief executive of Black Women’s Health Imperative, a D.C. based national health advocacy nonprofit, said, “What we are seeing is that the message about the importance of health is getting through to black women. The data show that the majority of us know that we need to improve and are working on it. We also understand the importance of having a positive attitude. When black women are asked to define what good health means, we say things such as ‘being calm’ or ‘being at peace.’ We don’t use diseases to define it. We don’t let a condition like obesity define who we are, even though we work on getting into shape.”

Blount hit the nail on the head. This is us.

She also mentioned that “Whether it’s because of a lack of transportation or a determined effort to get exercise, Black women tend to walk a lot. We are on the move more than most.”

Blount also referenced our admiration of our First Lady, Michelle Obama, as the reason for the additional focus on health and internal as well as external wellness.

“There has also been the ‘Michelle Obama Effect,’ ” Blount said. “Her emphasis on healthy eating and exercise during the past eight years has really paid off. Black women are so inspired by her – her relationships with her husband, children and mother. Black women are really trying to emulate her.”

Whatever the cause, keep up the good work ladies. We need all the time we’ve got.

Image via Shutterstock

Veronica Wells is the culture editor at She is also the author of “Bettah Days.” You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter @VDubShrug.

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