The black community has long been underserved when it comes to healthcare in America. Whether that comes from a lack of access to quality healthcare or our concerns not being taken seriously, it’s been a problem facing us for years. Now that we’re in the midst of a public health crisis unlike any we’ve seen in our collective lifetime, there is a worry that it may have an inordinate effect on black communities.
Buzzfeed News reports that doctors in Virginia are asking both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the World Health Organization to release data showing who is being tested and in what communities. Some databases are simply tracking gender, age and location but not race or ethnicity when it comes to testing. Dr. Ebony Hilton spoke to Buzzfeed News and said:
“We know in the US that there are great discrepancies in not only the diagnosis but the treatment that African Americans and other minorities are afforded. So I want to make sure that in this pandemic, that black and brown people are treated in the same way and that these tests are made available in the same pattern as for white people.”
COVID-19 is set to have a direct impact on black and brown communities. Working from home is one of the ways companies have tried to prevent the spread of the virus but numbers show that only one in five black workers can actually do that. Add in low wages, sub-par access to healthcare, living environments that already have an adverse effect on health and you have a population seriously at risk of getting sick. This is why we need to make sure testing is available and easily accessible in all communities.
There’s also the matter of implicit bias and doctors not taking black pain seriously.
From Buzzfeed News:
Hilton added that doctors have to rely on a lot of diagnostics that can be quite subjective to decide whether someone should get a test or not — feeling exhausted, having a sore throat — rather than measurable objective factors. That, she said, makes the whole process more vulnerable to the implicit biases that every patient and medical professional carry around with them.
It’s not out of the realm of possibility for someone to have the virus and to be waived off for having a common cold. People have died from life-threatening illnesses because doctors thought they were faking it. This could lead to the virus being spread by people who don’t even know they have it.
Despite what Hotep Twitter might say, black people can get the coronavirus. Simply look at Idris Elba and the NBA. I hope we as a community are taking this seriously. Most importantly, I hope the medical field, for once, takes us seriously. The stakes are too high for the same old bullshit to come into play.