Minority Health is often absent from the overall umbrella of health. When I studied public health at Oakland University, specifics on Black health were an afterthought. There would be moments where the professor would proclaim “A risk factor for heart disease is being African American” and the class would move on to the next topic. I would cringe at the lack of context and the lack of inquisitiveness by the rest of my colleagues. I found myself asking questions that I knew the answers to so the professor would elaborate on the subject. I remember saying: “I am taking a few Biology courses and we’re learning that 99.9% of all cells for all humans are the same…so why do we see these stats in groups separated by race?
The professor would then elaborate on the social determinants of health and the effects of systemic racial oppression (and would do an amazing job). This would begin the ripple pattern of other classmates asking follow-up questions as their light bulbs began to ignite.
The importance of addressing health disparities caused by American History and not exclusively race is paramount when it comes to fixing multiple issues that we face as health professionals and as a nation.
The statistics that we see when it comes to minority health have little to do with the actual race they identify as. There are social, economic and political influences that impact the wellbeing of non-White Americans. We must view health as an overarching, constantly flowing process in order to achieve stability. Health is not the absence of disease, but an overall well-being of life socially, mentally, and economically.
Health is Wealth.