ask your political leaders why they donʼt talk about ‘social determinants of health’ to see how much they care …
I’ll start by heading off the near-inevitable “What about White people” pushback whenever someone else mentions a unique and more intense version of hell that Black and Brown folks are experiencing.
Sure — coronavirus doesn’t ask for skin color when it enters and removes your body from the planet. No one should argue that.
But I’ve been telling friends for weeks that Black neighborhoods are not designed to withstand disease invasions of almost any kind, let alone COVID-19.
And the reason is deeper than the mainstream talking points about diseases that preexist in these communities.
Public health researchers have been telling us for years that the following drivers determine whether or not residents will live full and healthy lives:
- Education and training
- Community network and support resources
- Economic opportunity (e.g., employment, wealth, and debt)
- Physical environment (e.g., parks, housing, walkable spaces and playgrounds)
- Healthcare access
- Healthy food access
Wealthier communities have these six drivers. Poor communities don’t.
Think of a neighborhood that doesn’t have access to these drivers — or the drivers a neighborhood could access are of poor quality — and you’ll also see a neighborhood where both infants and adults die before their time.
You can’t simply choose which drivers an unhealthy neighborhood should access — all neighborhoods need all these drivers.
And the drivers need to work together, typically created and implemented through social, economic, health, and environmental policies.
For example, government policies determine where toxic-emitting chemical factories are located — and you can bet most factories aren’t built near mansions.
Government policies — in collaboration with private sector firms — can target neighborhoods for training, which can help residents start new careers.
I’ll repeat this for the silver bullet seekers: these policies need to affect all drivers — called “social determinants of health” by most research and public health circles — in order for neighborhoods to thrive.
Otherwise, more of these neighborhoods’ residents will die.
Decades of government policies have ravaged Black, Brown or otherwise poor neighborhoods through waves of direct attacks on these social determinants.
You can’t call this undeclared war on communities of color anything else than textbook racism or bias.
We need to widen our strategic viewpoint beyond the risk coronavirus presents to communities with residents who have high instances of diabetes, since addressing the social determinants of health could have mitigated the risk of diabetes and other diseases in the first place.<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">I’ve noticed only a handful of politicians making any reference to the social determinants of health over the years, which tells me the rest are either racist or don’t care.
Which … means still racist through my lens.
Or perhaps unenlightened. Let’s make them aware …
song currently stuck in my head: “wise women” – moonchild