While visiting Facebook profiles of African American friends, displeasure (anger) over the recent incident in the state of Missouri is quite palpable. After pondering over this issue in light of public health, I think economic disparity is the root cause; economic gap is the root cause; and even when if we think of stereotyping, it is also somewhat related with economic differences. There might be many angles involved, but solution lies in reducing this disparities. And coupling it with closing educational gap!
According to the US census, the poverty rate among African American has increased from 25% to 28% in last ten years between 2005 and 2014. Single mother with children is the most suffered group in the framework of poverty. Statistics reveal shocking layer of the truth when poverty rates among single mothers with children is compared to married couple black families. (its 47% vs 8%). There is need to find out the reason behind this sordid condition of single mothers. There are 43 million American living under poverty line, of which almost 10 million are African Americans, which means 25% of poor Americans are represented by African Americans. Doesn’t this statistics tell the crux of story? However, everything is not like discouraging, rates have dramatically come down from 1960 statistics.
According to US Bureau of Justice Statistics, nearly 40 percent prison population is non-hispanic blacks, if we imagine its implications such as what happen to their families, who take care of them, what happen to their children, are they more prone to fall into crime like their father (the crime for he was arrested) or sibling committed? Do we have such program in place to observe (just observation) the living condition of relatives or dependent of the person who is in jail? 40% of black population of jails is there for drug and robbery related crimes compared to 30% of others.
It’s a complex issue, it can’t be sorted out overnight, however, sincere and honest initiatives by government and active participation from rich educated members of the community can definitely help in tailoring required program and its effective implementation. Such program, if in place and effectively executed, have potential to produce desirable outcome and long sustaining impact.
It is not that government has closed its eyes ( based on the statistics). Many assistance programs are running well, for example.39% of African Americans are on Medicaid, 25 percent of them are recipients of food stamps, 13% get cash assistance and 11 percent get housing help. Deeper insight into Medicaid reveals that major chunk of Medicaid beneficiaries are children.
In the context of health, African Americans are not only more prone to get disease; they are more likely to die from it. I attended one lecture by family medicine practitioner (also health activist) at Hunter college auditorium, who told surprising fact that African Americans are least likely to obtain retirement social security benefits even though they contribute during their working years. Why? Life expectancy of black is 73, which is five years less than white counterparts. There are few more disturbing stat: almost 80% of black women above 20 are overweight and 40 percent of black men above 20 are living with hypertension.
(Special note: I apologize if there is any statistics or sentence, which is wrongly placed, or convey message that, in case, if hurt someone. This is my sincere attempt to present reality in the context of public health)