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Deana Taylor wants to help improve the lives and diminish the disparities faced by Black folks in Memphis, Tennessee. 

In many ways Memphis, Tennessee embodies all of the vaulting summits and desolate valleys of the Black American experience. The city has a large blues scene, a rich civil rights history, and an impressive Black culinary tradition. But simultaneously, it is a city marred by racial inequality, discrimination, and unadorned white supremacy. Last month the statue of the Confederate soldier and staunch white supremacist, Nathan Bedford Forrest, was finally removed from the city's park grounds. And while some celebrate the slow withdrawal of the essence of white supremacy in public, the substance of racism in Memphis nevertheless persists. And perhaps nowhere does the city’s legacy of racial inequality loom larger than it does over the city's health care disparities. According to Tennessee government documents, the state has had a long history of racial inequality when it comes to health with African Americans having higher rates of injury, premature death, infant mortality, and health risks like obesity and insufficient access to healthy foods. A longitudinal study investigating Memphis found the city suffered from a particularly serious problem with infant mortality.   “Sixty percent of the births are to African-American women in Shelby County, but nearly 80 percent of the infant deaths are among African-Americans,” the researchers wrote. ”Although there are some counties in Tennessee with higher infant mortality rates among African-Americans, an African-American baby born in Shelby County does have a relatively disadvantaged first year of life.”

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