Being Black in America Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

The mean life expectancy in the United States is 82.4 years, but in Harris County this can vary by about 20 years between ZIP codes. Average folks in Kashmere Gardens (77026) generally don’t see their seventieth birthday. In Sunnyside the most senior residents average about sixty-six years old. White people in Clear Lake (75407) can expect to live until at least ninety. Only about 6 % of the residents there are Black. The chronic stress of living in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Houston is a significant contributor to these statistics. Segregation influences one’s health.

Racism is clearly correlated with the increase in inflammatory diseases like gastrointestinal disorders and asthma. The stress hormones associated with discrimination are elevated in Blacks and result in premature aging. The poor air quality, the limited availability of affordable fresh food, and the inability to escape racial violence, all seep into the community and increase the susceptibility to illness. Black citizens in every neighborhood suffer historically worse medical outcomes than any other groups other than Native Americans, from maternal mortality to heart disease and cancer.

The term “weathering” is how Arline Geronimus, a public health researcher at the University of Michigan describes this phenomenon. She compares the Black body to a rock that is constantly being worn down by a hostile environment and weakened by the stress and pressure of existing in a prejudiced culture. Strategies challenging education, shelter, income, and jobs all impact one’s physical and mental well-being. Entrenched racism within those social structures and institutions disrupts the health of all Black Americans.

The National Academy of Medicine knows and deplores that “racial and ethnic minorities receive lower-quality health care than white people, even when insurance status, income, age, and severity of conditions are comparable.”

The Academy Award winning actress and philanthropist Angelina Jolie knows this first-hand. She is the mother of six children who were born across the globe. In an article, she wrote for the American Journal of Nursing and discusses the fact that, “I have seen my children of color be misdiagnosed, at times in ways that endangered their health.” Her critique included the fact that medical professionals have overlooked and disregarded the circumstances that race and ethnicity present, and how medical and nursing schools assumed white skin to be the model to study.

Serena Williams is another example of this travesty. None of her wealth or celebrity status could protect her from the life-threatening crisis she suffered after the birth of her first baby.

Dr. Michael LeNoir, a physician based in Oakland, California endorsed these concerns. “Just being Black makes you tired. We’re the only population that probably does not benefit health-wise from increasing your socioeconomic status.”

The reasons for this disparity are many, including self-sabotage. Blacks are less inclined to be vaccinated for preventable diseases such as the flu or COVID. Still, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund has ranked Texas as the most difficult state in the nation to access health care; it also distinguished us as among the costliest for uninsured patients, which nearly a quarter of us are. The state’s legislature has defiantly snubbed the expansion of Medicaid despite the unmistakable financial rewards it would return.

 

Many Blacks do not have a personal physician, and when they do, the unconscious bias of white doctors as well as those of other ethnicities sometimes cause them to judge minority patients unsympathetically and indicate in their notes that they doubt the severity of their patients’ conditions. Black pain is frequently undertreated because some providers believe that Black people tolerate pain more easily than white people.

Although the scarcity of Black primary care doctors is a reality, most studies recognize that the life expectancy and over all well-being of Black citizens are improved in counties with increased numbers of Black physicians. This may be because Black patients are more likely to follow medical recommendations after visiting Black doctors, especially those with hypertension and heart diseases, but it is also likely that improved communication and trust is the result of the commonalities the doctor and patient share.

“Weathering” is a reality for Blacks living in a discriminatory society. It is up to each of us to protect and boost ourselves and each from as many storms as we can.

 

 

October 16, 2023, HOUSTON, TX – Congressional Candidate Amanda Edwards has raised over $1 million in less than 4 months, a substantial sum that helps bolster the frontrunner status of the former At-Large Houston City Council Member in her bid for U.S. Congress. Edwards raised over $433,000 in Q3 of 2023. This strong Q3 report expands on a successful Q2 where Edwards announced just 11 days after declaring her candidacy that she had raised over $600,000. With over $829,000 in cash-on-hand at the end of the September 30th financial reporting period, Edwards proves again that she is the clear frontrunner in the race. “I am beyond grateful for the strong outpouring of support that will help me to win this race and serve the incredible people of the 18th Congressional District,” said Edwards. “We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s trajectory, and we need to send servant leaders to Congress who can deliver the results the community deserves. The strong support from our supporters will help us to cultivate an 18th Congressional District where everyone in it can thrive.” Edwards said. “Amanda understands the challenges that the hard-working folks of the 18th Congressional District face because she has never lost sight of who she is or where she comes from; she was born and raised right here in the 18th Congressional District of Houston,” said Kathryn McNiel, spokesperson for Edwards’ campaign. Edwards has been endorsed by Higher Heights PAC, Collective PAC, Krimson PAC, and the Brady PAC. She has also been supported by Beto O’Rourke, among many others. About Amanda: Amanda is a native Houstonian, attorney and former At-Large Houston City Council Member. Amanda is a graduate of Eisenhower High School in Aldine ISD. Edwards earned a B.A. from Emory University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Edwards practiced law at Vinson & Elkins LLP and Bracewell LLP before entering public service. Edwards is a life-long member of St. Monica Catholic Church in Acres Homes. For more information, please visit www.edwardsforhouston.com

As September 13th rolls around, we extend our warmest birthday wishes to the creative powerhouse, Tyler Perry, a man whose indomitable spirit and groundbreaking work have left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment. With his multifaceted talents as an actor, playwright, screenwriter, producer, and director, Tyler Perry has not only entertained but also inspired audiences worldwide, particularly within the African-American community, where his influence and role have been nothing short of powerful. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1969, Tyler Perry’s journey to stardom was a path riddled with adversity. Raised in a turbulent household, he found refuge in writing, using it as a therapeutic outlet. This period of introspection gave rise to one of his most iconic creations, Madea, a vivacious, no-nonsense grandmother who would later become a beloved figure in Perry’s works, offering a unique blend of humor and profound life lessons. Despite facing numerous challenges, including rejection and financial struggles, Perry’s determination and unwavering belief in his abilities propelled him forward. In 1992, he staged his first play, “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” which, although met with limited success, was a pivotal moment in his career. Unfazed by initial setbacks, Perry continued to hone his craft, and by 1998, he had successfully produced a string of stage plays that showcased his storytelling prowess.

Calling all teenage student-athletes! If you have dreams of playing college soccer and wish to represent an HBCU, the HBCU ID Camp is your golden opportunity. From 8 am to 5 pm on November 11-12, Houston Sports Park will transform into a hub for aspiring male and female soccer players. Coaches from HBCUs across the nation will be present to evaluate, scout, and offer valuable feedback. Moreover, they might even spot the next soccer prodigy to join their collegiate soccer programs. This camp is not just about honing your soccer skills but also a chance to connect with the HBCU soccer community. You’ll learn the ins and outs of what it takes to excel on the field and in the classroom, which is crucial for a college athlete. The HBCU ID Camp is an excellent platform to network with coaches, learn from experienced athletes, and take the first steps toward your college soccer journey. To secure your spot at this incredible event, don’t forget to register [here](insert registration link). Space is limited to 120 participants, so make sure to reserve your place before it’s too late. It’s time to turn your dreams of playing college soccer into a reality.

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