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The Myth of Meritocracy
and African American Health

Naa Oyo Kwate and Ilan H. Meyer

American Journal of Public Health
October 2010
Recent theoretical and empirical studies of the social determinants of health inequities have shown that economic deprivation, multiple levels of racism, and neighborhood context limit African American health chances and that African Americans' poor health status is predicated on unequal opportunity to achieve the American Dream.

President Obama's election has been touted as a demonstration of American meritocracy—the belief that all may obtain the American Dream—and has instilled hope in African Americans. However, we argue that in the context of racism and other barriers to success, meritocratic ideology may act as a negative health determinant for African Americans.

Naa Oyo Kwate and Ilan H. Meyer. 2010. "The Myth of Meritocracy and African American Health." American Journal of Public Health, 100: 1831-1834.