Actress Keshia Knight Pulliam welcomed her first child, daughter Ella Grace via C-section last month.
But according to a recent episode of her Kandidly Keshia podcast, her experience after giving birth at an Atlanta hospital shows that even a Cosby kid is not immune to racism within the healthcare system.
Pulliam praised her doctors but said she ran into issues with her lactation specialist, an “old little white lady” who assumed that Pulliam was a mother in need. The specialist handed Pulliam a resource pamphlet where she only pointed out their Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program.
“We have some great programs that you may want to take advantage of that you may need. Um, WIC is a great program,” the old lady told the actress. WIC provides federal support for low-income pregnant women and new mothers.
The specialist also questioned Pulliam’s health insurance, and was not helpful in teaching the actress how to breastfeed her newborn.
“Like, she didn’t want to touch me,” Pulliam said. “They literally will like, guide your boob, show you how to hold it, put it in the baby’s mouth. This lady was not trying to touch my little brown boobie. Not at all.”
The actress also admitted that she had checked in under a pseudonym — as if that should matter. Eventually, she requested a different specialist.
Discrimination within the healthcare system is not unusual. According to a 2012 study by the American Journal of Public Health, about two-thirds of primary care doctors harbor unconscious biases toward their black patients, leading those doctors to spend less time with these patients and involve them less in medical decisions.
“…this ultimately creates an environment in which black people often don’t feel welcome in the medical system — and may start avoiding it,” according to a Think Progress report.
As for Pulliam, she says she understood that the specialist offering her options when she showed her the pamphlet, but took issue with how it was done.
“I get it, it’s about showing the services that are offered,” Pulliam said. “And I probably wouldn’t have been offended had she [pointed out] several of the services [and not just] WIC and the fact that ‘if you don’t have insurance…'”