Introduction to African-American Outreach

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The African-American community is a diverse, multi-layered group that is composed of people from different economic, educational, and cultural backgrounds. While it might appear as though the African-American community identifies culturally as a one-dimensional community, in contrast, it is made up of a mixture of individuals from different countries and ideological views. Despite the diverse nature of the African-American community, the issue of having quality, affordable health coverage is of critical importance to all its members. Additionally, African Americans receive information from various sources. In order to successfully engage the unique make-up of this African American community, an understanding of the cultural factors is necessary.

For the purposes of this document, the terms “Black” and “African American” are used to primarily describe any individual that 1) self-identifies as such and 2) is a U.S.-born person of African descent. There is a sub-group of non-U.S.-born “Black immigrants” within the African-American community that must be understood separately in terms of language and culture and is discussed in the “Engaging the African/Afro-Caribbean Immigrant Community” section.

Below are some general demographics and health information about the African-American community that might be helpful in designing outreach efforts:


  • In 2011, the African-American community was estimated at 43.9 million, making up 13.6 percent of the total U.S. population. They are the second largest minority population, following the Hispanic/Latino population. African-Americans are 15 percent of the eligible uninsured population.1
  • The Black population increased at a faster rate than the total (U.S.) population. The total U.S. population grew by 9.7 percent, from 281.4 million in 2000 to 308.7 million in 2010. In comparison, the Black population grew by 12 percent from 34.7 million to 38.9 million.2
  • States with the largest total number of Black residents (in 2010) were New York (3.3 million), Florida (3.2 million), Texas (3.2 million), Georgia (3.1 million), California (2.7 million), and North Carolina (2.2 million). 3

  •  In 2010, as compared to Whites 25 years and over, a lower percentage of Blacks had earned at least a high school diploma (82 percent and 91 percent, respectively.) 4

  • According to the 2010 Census Bureau report, the average African American family median income was $39,988 in comparison to $67,892 for non-Hispanic White families. 4

  • For 2011, the unemployment rate for Blacks was twice that for non-Hispanic Whites (15.8 percent and 7.9 percent, respectively). This finding was consistent for both men and women.4

  • In 2010, 44 percent of African Americans in comparison to 62 percent of non-Hispanic Whites used employer-sponsored health insurance. 4

Engaging African Americans:

The facts above begin to showcase both the diversity of the African-American community and the urgency of outreach to uninsured African-American. When considering the most effective engagement strategies to close the “enrollment gap,” you should consider three core subsets of the community: older women, young men and young women, and the Black (or African/Afro-Caribbean) immigrant community. This toolkit was developed around those three primary subsets of the African-American community to fully encompass the group as a whole but also to hone in on particular communities that require unique modes of engagement.

Here is a quick overview of these three key groups:

  1. African-American Women (35-64): The mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, girlfriends, wives are highly trusted messengers when seeking to reach young African Americans, especially young men. (See the Engaging African-American Women section for suggestions on places and methods to reach this group.)
  2. Young African-American Men and Women (18-35): One of the hardest to reach constituencies are young African Americans. African-American males are more likely to experience a 5 to 3 year shorter life expectancy than their White counterparts due to lack of adequate access to early preventive care. (See the Engaging African American Youth section for suggestions on places and methods to reach this group.)
  3. African/Afro-Caribbean Immigrant CommunityOne of the more complex groups to identify are African/Afro-Caribbean Immigrants. It is comprised of a diverse group of non-US born people of African Descent from the continent of Africa, the Caribbean islands and parts of Latin America. (See the Engaging African/Afro-Caribbean Immigrants section for suggestions on places and methods to reach this group.)


1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NCHS FastStats, Health of African American Non-Hispanic Populations. 

2U.S. Census, The Black Population: 2010.

3U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health, African-American Profile.

4U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Agency for Health Research and Policy, National Healthcare Disparities Report, 2010: Chapter 10: priority populations.

5A Portrait of Black America on the Eve of the 2010 Census, the 

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