10 Reasons African Americans Should March on Washington About Health Care

August should have been marked by black rage at the status quo—rather than white paranoia about change.

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5. Breast and cervical cancer. Black women are twice as likely to die from cervical cancer as whites and while breast cancer deaths are dropping for whites, black women continue to die at higher rates than anybody else. Why? No preventive care to catch cancer early enough to treat it.

6. Diabetes. America is in the throes of a diabetes epidemic, but it’s raging like nowhere else among blacks, particularly black women, who have a higher rate than any other group. Worse, both black men and women are much more likely to be hospitalized, disabled and killed by diabetes once they have it.

7. Heart disease. It’s the nation’s leading killer and leading disabler—and racks up some $300 billion a year in health costs. Surprise, surprise—blacks have more of it and get it younger than anybody else.

8. HIV/AIDS. Blacks account for a whopping half of all those living with HIV today, 45 percent of those newly infected each year and about half of all deaths. At this point, it’s basically a black epidemic.

9. STDs. An unprecedented study last year found 48 percent of all black teenage girls tested had a sexually transmitted infection. Damn near half. Which helps explain the HIV data, since untreated STDs facilitate the spread of HIV.

10. Downward spiral. All of this is getting worse as time drags on. Between the civil rights movement and today, black people have improved our lot in life by just about every score—education, income, occupation. All except the one that matters most: living to see old age. The gap between black and white mortality rates has actually increased by a third since 1960. If that’s not enough to piss us off, I don’t know what is.

Kai Wright is The Root’s senior writer.