Access to good health care essential for Black men and boys regardless of social class
Racism historically has proven very unhealthy to Black males, says a Morehouse College School of Medicine community health professor.
Dr. Henrie Treadwell’s new book, Beyond Stereotypes in Black and White (Praeger), examines among other things how racism impacts life opportunities for Black men and boys. “I think that is a real [important] question,” she said in a recent phone interview with the MSR.
Treadwell devotes the book’s fourth chapter to the actual impact of racism, which she states is too often at the center of many societal ills that face Black young men and follow them all through adulthood.
“Racism really impacted the hiring practices and policies in this nation, and then…we add to that the criminal justice system that has incarcerated disproportionately African American boys and men and, when they are released, [they] still have the issues of employment,” she points out. Black males, regardless of income status, who find themselves in stressful environments produced by racism “still exist, and we need to come to grips with it,” says Treadwell.
“Even African American boys and men now who now live with high wages and good positions are subject to having more of the stress and illnesses associated with stress because they live in a culture that requires them to perform differently, to perform better than the rest. So that stress does affect their health care.
“They exhibit in some ways some of the same early sickness and early death that we see in poor men, because they don’t have access to care,” she points out. “One of the problems that I find is that quite often middle-class and upper-class African American men kind of shy away from that discussion, but I would
say to them, ‘You are still getting sick. You are still dying too soon, and if we just access the environment then there may be some answers there…because of our race and color.”
Treadwell supports the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature legislation, but is concerned that not enough people understand it or support it. She currently is working with some Georgia state legislators who want to see the ACA work in the state.
“It is not moving in Georgia right now. It really isn’t that hard — it just takes a commitment to doing it,” says the Morehouse professor. “I think there is resistance because of those same reasons — we don’t want to give it to ‘those people’ who are not working as hard as they should in the things that I did if I happen to be White, middle class and upper class.
“[The ACA] should be implemented, and we all need to get into it, but it’s no surprise that [opposition to the ACA] follows racial lines,” says Treadwell.
Dr. Treadwell will discuss additional topics she explored in her book in future issues of the MSR.
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