In the early 1900s our people had very little access to healthcare. While many white scholars and doctors blamed it on us – saying that because we were Black, we were naturally less healthy – one scholar brought a different viewpoint.
W.E.B. DuBois’ work uncovered the truth 100+ years ago, so why does the U.S. still refuse to listen?
It was RACISM, and not RACE, that made a difference in health outcomes. If housing, education, employment, and access to healthcare were improved, the disparities in health would resolve themselves! This was an indisputable fact. So what did doctors do with this information?
Many doctors agreed that DuBois’ work was true! But rather than act, public health officials simply kept blaming race, and so did many other experts. Why would they do this if doctors knew how to make things better?
There were much bigger issues at hand. Keeping social control of our upward mobility took priority over improving our poor health outcomes. The sicker we are, the easier we are to keep subjugated.
The impact a century later? Those disparities are, in many ways, even worse today!
DuBois’ work shows the power racism has to make us sick – or even kill us. That’s why it’s so important we enter the medical field, advocate powerfully for our families, and protect our communities against oppression!