September 6, 2007 - Issue 243
A Call to Action for Healthcare Equality!
Single-Payer Healthcare - Part 27
By Onleilove Alston, Healthcare-Now.org
“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
From its inception, the field of healthcare
Within the first hour of Michael Moore’s movie, SiCKO, we see the connection between the fight for Guaranteed Healthcare and the fight against racial disparities in healthcare. In SiCKO, we see the story of a white woman whose African-American husband has died because a hospital where she is employed refused to do a bone marrow transplant for him, even though a donor had been found. In response to this, she states to the hospital’s board of directors: “maybe this wouldn’t have happened if my husband was a White man”. This is a question that many African-Americans have to ask themselves on a daily basis. Environmental racism has led to a great amount of inner-city African-American youth being plagued with asthma. African-Americans have higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, and high blood-pressure and new research is showing that the high levels of these diseases in the African-American community may be due to the stress of living in a racist society. Across the board, we see that African-Americans have suffered greatly under the American healthcare system and with 47 million Americans uninsured, many of them minorities and children, the African-American community has to mobilize around the issue of healthcare reform.
In our struggle for equality, African-Americans
have to fight for one of the most basic of all human rights and that
is the right to be healthy. Our quality of life is affected by a
healthcare system that was not created for us, but has used us to
benefit others. Ever since we were seen as three-fifths of a human
being during slavery, our bodies were used in gruesome experiments
by doctors who wanted to perfect their craft, at our expense, so
that they could better serve white society. Harriet A. Washington
shines a light on how harmful the American field of healthcare has
been to African-Americans in her landmark book, Medical Apartheid The Dark History of Medical
Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present. African-Americans
who were enslaved, or free but poor, were at the mercy of a healthcare
system that gave them sub par or even harmful “treatment” (
The African-American community has to stand up and say - enough! In the same way that we mobilized for the right to vote, we have to mobilize for the right to be healthy. A healthy people are a strong people and a strong people can fight for equality.
The life expectancy for African-Americans
is much lower than that of whites. Healthcare is an issue that can
no longer be ignored in our community. A Guaranteed National Health
Insurance system for all, such as that proposed by H.R. 676, can
ensure that the healthcare system is no longer separate and unequal.
Though all American citizens are harmed by our current healthcare
system, African-Americans are harmed at alarming rates! With a universal,
single-payer healthcare system, it can be assured that African-Americans, undocumented immigrants, the poor
and everyone else in
How You Can Take Action:
As a community let’s look to our legacy of civil rights activism as a catalyst to take-up the fight for an equal healthcare system through the passage of H.R. 676!
Onleilove Alston was a summer
intern for Healthcare-Now and is currently studying for her dual
Masters in Divinity and Social Work at Union Theological Seminary
Click here to read any of the articles in this special BlackCommentator.com series on Single-Payer Healthcare.