UofSC Psychiatry Resident || @TheHeadDocMD || MyStreetHealth Content Creator

Setting the Stage

Health "care" isn't straightforward; expecting your doctor to understand your perspective when they have not lived your history is complicated. The account I am referring to carried within our bodies is the rich past of those who are American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS). Those who experience the ongoing social injustice and self-imposed stereotype threats that often go unrecognized by those born with fairer complexions. That is why it is essential as a women of color, and as a newly graduated medical doctor to share a few things from this perspective when it comes to healthcare and its delivery to my communities. I now understand that it is my responsibility to demand a seat at the table for this dialogue about public health and give a voice to those more often than not left voiceless. 

Over the next few weeks, I hope to set the stage for readers of these articles to have information to start a discussion with their peers, patients, and family members regarding health disparities. However, to understand the broader topic, one must first understand what determines the health of an individual. These often-incontrollable factors of an individual, defined through birth, growth, livelihood, employment status, and age, are known as the social determinants of health. (WHO) While health disparities are defined as "a particular type of health difference that is closely linked with social, economic, and environmental disadvantage. Health disparities adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater obstacles to health based on their racial or ethnic group; religion; socioeconomic status; gender; age; mental health; cognitive, sensory, or physical disability; sexual orientation or gender identity; geographic location; or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion." Healthy People 2020

These articles will focus on the racial inequity or unfairness experienced by African Americans within the United States in the twenty-first century. I will touch on several landmark paradigms that ensured the racial inequality, or the unequal distribution of opportunities within this country that lead to the systemic injustice within the whole healthcare industry. The most prevalent examples of this inequality today can be seen through access to medical care, diversity amongst providers, and culturally competent physicians or those trained in structural competency

However, this conversation would be incomplete without first beginning with the origin story of this plight, which is deeply rooted in the pseudoscience of slavery, the redlining following World War II, the "War on Drugs," the resulting media misrepresentation and stigmatization of substance use disorders. All the while, providing knowledge seekers with several keywords in an attempt to equip them with the vocabulary necessary to describe the social injustices that face the vast majority of underserved Americans, whether they provide care in the medical community or are among those who receive care. 
Photo: https://www.cdc.gov/minorityhealth/strategies2016/index.html

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