If one reviews co-morbidities of chronic diseases (hypertension, diabetes, asthma, obesity, etc.) and their associated mortality rates across the 50 United States – to what conclusions can one come? What social-economic determinants are driving those situations?
According to the CDC, 54% of people living with hypertension are non-Hispanic Black adults, and the heart disease is most prevalent in southern states. The CDC also reported that the majority of people living with diabetes or prediabetes are Native Americans/Alaskan, non-Hispanic Black, and Hispanic adults. This is not surprising as most chronic diseases occur and are worse in poor and ethnic areas (Cook and Peters, Health Disparities in Chronic Diseases: Where the Money Is). Chronic diseases occur in these areas because of the fear and mistrust of the medical system and lack of healthcare insurance.
From Separate to Equal mentioned early in the video that a lot of African Americans, from musicians to the most educated, feared hospitals because it was a “death sentence.” People would even refuse to get treated in hospitals even for the most extreme cases like gunshot wounds. White medicine is embedded on physical racial differences such as lack of lung and brain capacity and pain levels; doctors today still believe in these biases. Thomas Hamilton enslaved and tortured John Brown to prove that black people had larger sex organs, smaller skulls and thicker skin in the 1820s and 1830s (Villarosa, The 1619 Project). Black and Brown experimentation also continued into the 20th Century in the Tuskegee Syphilis Trials, Puerto Rico Birth Control Trials, and experiments alike.
Medical care is also extremely expensive, and many African Americans lack health insurance. Since the Civil War, African Americans have been denied healthcare through loopholes in legislation. Law makers have constantly believed that “free assistance of any kind would breed dependence” which still hinders African American coverage under the Affordable Care Act. (Interlandi, The 1619 Project). Black and brown communities hesitate to seek help for their health because of the cost and medical experiments and biases that are still prevalent today.