Black Health Matters


This is my homemade protest poster

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m tired. I have been on social media almost nonstop. I think my phone said my online time is up 40% this week. I am consuming everything I can about what is happening with protests, law enforcement, and justice for George Floyd. I’m still reeling over the murder of Ahmaud Arbery while jogging. I couldn’t believe the audacity of the Central Park Amy, her nearly strangled dog, and the birdwatcher just asking her to leash him. We watched 2 murders in a span of weeks. Two black men murdered over and over again on TV. Holy shit.

All the while a virus wages. A virus that appears to harm black folks at a higher rate. The virus of racism and COVID 19, take your pick. I feel traumatized, I am having trouble sleeping and concentrating.  And I’m white. What the fuck do my brothers and sisters of color feel on a daily basis????

Racism, trauma, murder, death takes a toll on the lives of the oppressed. This stress effects the health of those of color in America.

Advocating for the lives of black people in this country is innate to the practice of medicine. Black people are my patients. I stand up for and support measures to bring about their best health and well-being. Doctors have known for a long time that being black comes with its stressors and with these stressors, worsening health outcomes. Being black in this country is hard and it takes a toll on the health of the individual.

Not only do blacks in this country have to contend with racial disparities, systems of oppression, socioeconomic blockades, systemic societal violence, but also the long term effects of an oppressive, hate-filled and violent society on their health.

Black people

  • are 3 times more likely to die from asthma
  • are more likely to be obese
  • have higher rates of diabetes, hypertension, stroke, and heart disease
  • are 50% more likely to get lung cancer if they smoke
  • are more likely to die from cancers that are survivable by early intervention and treatment
  • are underrepresented in clinical trials for new drugs
  • are more likely to lose a limb to complications of diabetes

The genetics that determine the color of one’s skin cannot explain the vast differences in the numbers of blacks effected by illness compared to whites. Systemic racism and the stressors that it causes on the health and well-being of the black American is the cause of these disparities.

Black lives matter. As a physician, I vow to do better. I vow to continue to educate myself on how the medical system and my own white prejudice fosters racism and therefore perpetuates illness for my patients. I will see color, friends. I promise you that. People who say they don’t are liars and part of the problem.

I will not be color blind to the needs of my patients of color.

I will not be complicit.

I will bring the protest to the exam room. I will educate, advocate, and fight for the health of my black and brown patients. I will do everything in my power to change those statistics.

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3 Responses to Black Health Matters

  1. V.J. Knutson says:

    It sounds like this is a time to inform ourselves and protect those who are targetted in so many unfair ways. Well written.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jane says:

    Thanks for not staying silent…!

    Liked by 1 person

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