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Actress Ellen Pompeo received so much negative feedback for a news story she shared Tuesday on Instagram that she returned a day later to explain the feelings behind it.
This was the post:
The CNN story cited a study that researchers at George Mason University conducted of 1.8 million hospital births in Florida between 1992 and 2015. And the headline was not misleading — Black newborns were, in fact, three times more likely than white newborns to die in the hospital when cared for by white physicians, according to the numbers. The authors of the study didn’t look at why this was happening, but they recommended that hospitals and other medical organizations “invest in efforts to reduce such biases and explore their connection to institutional racism.”
Some of the commenters argued that the source of the news was not trustworthy. People identifying themselves as health care professionals accused Pompeo of spreading false information.
“This is part of the problem that you have made this a racial issue,” someone said.
It got ugly.
Related: Pregnancy, childbirth more dangerous for Black moms
“There was a lot of hate and a lot of anger, and I just want to address the healthcare workers and say, if you see that post and you feel defensive, that wasn’t my intention to accuse anybody,” the Grey’s Anatomy actress said in her response. “I’m not accusing anybody. These stats are real. They’re everywhere. It’s not just CNN. It’s not fake news. You can look it up.”
Pompeo said she didn’t want people taking out their rage, aggression and defensiveness on their Black co-workers.
“But let’s think about why that post makes you so defensive and makes you so mad. It should make us mad but not for the reasons you all are mad. It should make us mad, because people should walk into a hospital feeling safe, feeling protected and feeling that they’re going to be OK. And I have news for you people, that’s not how Black women feel when they go in to deliver babies,” Pompeo said. “It’s not how the majority of Black people feel when they go into a hospital to see a white doctor or white nurse or white healthcare professionals. If that makes you feel defensive, then you are part of the problem. Your attitude is part of the problem.”
Instead, Pompeo said people should be heartbroken and looking for a solution.
Pompeo said she’s attempting to be part of the solution to the problem by speaking out, and she invited others to do the same.
Pompeo has long been open about her feelings on race. In January, she appeared on Jada Pinkett Smith’s show Red Table Talk to discuss her interracial marriage. She and Chris Ivery, the music producer she married in 2007, share three children.
“I’m not afraid to talk about race,” Pompeo said then, per Oprah magazine. “A lot of people get nervous when you bring it up, and I understand why they do. At the same time, these are important conversations to have. And if you’re afraid to talk about them, then that’s a problem.”
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