Color naming

Oprah Winfrey’s Documentary ‘The Color of Care’ Explores Racial Inequalities in the Healthcare System

At the height of the pandemic in 2020, the television icon Oprah Winfrey tenaciously absorbed the stories of people affected by COVID-19. The story of Gary Fowler, who tried to receive treatment at numerous Detroit hospitals but was unsuccessful, returned home and wrote that he could not breathe before he died. His death rocked the media mogul. Fowler’s story led Winfrey to executive produce his documentary The color of care to dive deep into the structural racism embedded in America’s healthcare system, reports Today.

In collaboration with Smithsonian Channel and Winfrey’s Harpo Productions, the film enlisted the award-winning filmmaker Yance Ford to lead the project. The documentary brings together interviews with families of color who lost family members and friends to the disease and the agonizing steps they took to seek medical care before they died, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The color of care will premiere Sunday on the Smithsonian Channel; it will also be free on the Smithsonian’s Facebook page and YouTube channel until May 31, according to the Times.

Winfrey also opened up about how she encountered healthcare industry failures in 2007 when doctors misdiagnosed her and failed to test her blood to find the cause of her heart palpitations. When she went to a clinic in Cleveland, they discovered it was a thyroid problem causing heart palpitations.

“So at that point being a celebrity worked against me. I remember going back to see a doctor who had actually done an angiogram on me and I told him it wasn’t a heart problem , it was a thyroid problem,” the former talk show host recalled. “And she said, ‘What was I going to do? You’re Oprah Winfrey, and I wasn’t going to let you die without doing everything I thought I could do.'”

Experience has taught Winfrey to always seek multiple opinions from health care providers and to have someone accompany her to the hospital to act as her advocate.

“I don’t care who you are. I would never go to the hospital alone. Even as a person of distinction, with a name, I would never go to a hospital alone. I would always have someone who would accompany me and defend me. It’s a tough road to walk on your own, especially if you’re sick.

The documentary airs May 1, 2022 at 8:00 p.m. EST/7:00 p.m. CST on the Smithsonian Channel.