Leticia Garcia funded to study medical racism

Leticia Garcia
Expiration Date: 
Friday, September 30, 2022

Leticia Garcia, a student in the Online Master’s Program for Psychology, was recently awarded a grant by both the Center for the Study of Women in Society and the Center for Institutional Courage. These grants are funding her research that examines how institutional and medical racism shape the postpartum period for Black, Indigenous and families of color with premature infants.

Leticia was motivated to explore this topic after experiencing medical racism during a traumatic miscarriage. “I want to better understand the institutional, structural and systemic factors that shaped my experience while helping to advocate for the most vulnerable families in my community,” she explained.

Leticia drew on her previous experience with participatory-action research (PAR) in her approach to this project. PAR side-steps the hierarchy of standard research approaches by allowing community ownership of the research process, creating relationships of mutual trust and reciprocity between the researchers and the community. “A relationship-based approach to research creates safety and representation for marginalized communities,” Leticia elaborated. It’s also a research approach uniquely suited for creating structural change, which is critical for the topic of this project.

When I talked with Leticia, the research team had just finished the first stage of the research process and had not yet collected any data. Through this project, they hope to learn more about medical institutional betrayal and find out this impacts parents of color. But there are still several hurdles they need to tackle before going further. Given the sensitive nature of this topic, it’s important to find a way of learning from the participants without retraumatizing them. And Leticia and her team want to go beyond “not harming” the participants: they aim to benefit the participants both through the process of learning from them and through the outcome of their research.

Leticia has a few ideas about where this research could go in the future, but ultimately, that decision will be made collectively by both the researchers and the community. “The most meaningful thing for me about this research project is mobilizing my individual experience into collective action,” Leticia shared, “and receiving support from an inspiring group of community members where we can learn collaboratively and heal together.”