What's up fam? Okay so I've been fed up the past couple of weeks at school. You wanna know why? Well, I am a kinesiology student in the school of Public Health at the prestigious University of Maryland and all that jazz, the ol' razzle dazzle and such. This is my final semester, and I'm more than happy to graduate... trust me, but I've found my mindset and beliefs straying further and further away from what is being taught at school.
So what's the problem?
In lecture, I hear time and time again, that African American people have the highest rates of mortality and the highest risks of developing of diabetes because of our tendency to have a "low socioeconomic status." *eye roll* That's real easy to put in a graph, huh?
I think a lot of studies, especially ones addressed in my course of study, are guilty of mass oversimplification of a bigger issue. It always comes down to, if you are black, that means you are probably poor, which means you live in an unstable living condition, which means you have a low socioeconomic status, which means you have a disease, etc. etc. the list goes on.
Many articles fail to mention WHY black people are living in such poor urban areas in the first place. During the industrialization era and post-emancipation, black people migrated to urban cities to find work. However, white people often felt uncomfortable working side-by-side with black people, so it was very common for black people to be pushed to the outskirts of the city, thus being alienated, creating areas that we know now to be "the hood."
But by overlooking this fact, many professors at school perpetuate the simplified thought that if you are African American, it equates to being poor. There has never been a time in class that I've seen a study of a black person with high socioeconomic status or inversely a caucasian person with low socioeconomic status.
Then we encounter the problem with gentrification, which is when people from suburban areas, mainly white, move into the hood, and then magically all of the facilities that are needed to fulfill a healthy lifestyle are implemented. A.k.a. if black people live in the hood it's dangerous, but when white people move into this same area, hospitals are built, gyms are opened, there are grocery stores, suddenly it's safe. And then we see the health disparity increase even more.
As a black woman from one of the most affluent black areas in the country, I think that it's insulting to always have this idea shoved into my face. We should stop being so quick to jump to conclusions as to why black people, for example, happen to have the highest rate of diabetes, as we should pay attention to the more complex issues, like the upstream values of policy, and why exactly black people are put into these areas of certain cities in the first place. Yes, in the hood, there are very few accessible grocery stores and well-lit areas so that people can walk for exercise safely, but WHY?
It's very easy to point the finger and say black people are lazy, or black people don't eat healthy enough, but often times in urban areas they literally don't have the access to the resources needed. And when white people come in and "build up" these areas, the black people that were initially forced into these areas can't even afford the facilities that are being built. So the cycle continues to be perpetuated but never adequately addressed, especially in the education system.
I think in a lot of policy classes that I'm taking we should spend less time emphasizing the fact that black people have the highest rate of diabetes but should focus more on the upstream issues as to why this is. Instead of having 500 students turn in papers that say black people means having low socioeconomic status, (when in actuality, the highest rates of poverty in the country are from white people), the more complex policy issues should be addressed, and plans for change should be implemented. And that's that on THAT.
And thank you @Fullershoots for the amazing photos.