Thursday, July 23, 2009

Health Disparities (or "Medical Apartheid") and Bronx Health REACH

I just read an article in the NY Times about Obama's comments regarding the arrest of the Harvard director of African American studies. It seems as though people are angry that Obama is speaking out about racism, because this may mean he is not speaking on behalf of all American people - just about his own people. But this is untrue. President Obama is speaking out about this instance of racism (even though he may not have known all of the facts about the situation) because he knows about the issue of institutional racism. Just because this episode happened with the arrest of a perfectly innocent man doesn't mean it's just a one-time occurrance. It just happened to gain publicity because Mr. Gates is the Harvard director of African American studies. Mr. Gates was mistaken for another "black man" breaking into his own house, and was not even shown the police officer's badge when Mr. Gates asked to see it.

No - I think this is what Peggy McIntosh was talking about when she wrote White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack 20 years ago. There is indeed institutional racism, and Blacks, Latinos, and other "minorities" suffer because of it. As a matter of fact, Bronx Health REACH filed a complaint with the Attorney General last year regarding the issue of separate but unequal care among teaching hospitals in NYC. CNN recently got wind of this story and decided to feature the issue on Anderson Cooper 360. Here is the clip.

Bronx Health REACH is a CDC-funded organization which functions under the auspices of the Institute for Family Health. I've been interning with Bronx Health REACH since February, working on the formative research for a social marketing campaign, in order to understand children's attitudes towards eating vegetables and fruits and change these attitudes to improve consumption of these healthy foods. The goal of the social marketing campaign is for children to be involved in developing a "brand" for vegetables and fruits that can be more easily "advertised" and promoted among peers, in order to change the culture of unhealthy eating habits in the South Bronx. It came about because our Nutrition & Fitness Workgroup realized traditional strategies for improving eating habits among children weren't working. I started a blog for Bronx Health REACH with many food and nutrition resources that I've come across and been using during my work with REACH.

Another thing - Bronx Health REACH is actually a nationally recognized Center of Excellence in the Elimination of Disparities, and has the opportunity to fund other Coalitions that want to do similar work as us. The Request for Proposals for new Coalitions is now out, and can be found at the bottom of the page on the Bronx Health REACH website ("Legacy Project Funding Opportunity").

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Regarding separate but unequal health care: Perhaps 3-4 years ago, a part time security guard for the Cleveland Clinic was shot while on duty. It was reported in the news that the Cleveland Clinic ER would not accept his insurance and he was sent across town to Metro hospital.