If I don’t address racial disparities, I’m doing a disservice to people of color. I am a White woman, so writing a blog about racial disparities somewhat made me uncomfortable. But I decided I need to come out of that comfort zone and address racial inequality because it is evident. Some are affected by the disparities daily. I can only speak to what I have seen and what I have researched. I will never know what it is like to be in the shoes of another. *Side note throughout this entry, I use ‘we’ to mean society, not a specific person.
I’ve spoken to several women of color, saying they felt their child was diagnosed on time and given fair treatment. However, there are several women that I have talked to that say just the opposite. They felt their concerns were shoved aside. So what can one do? That always seems to be the question that everybody asks, and no one can answer. I do not have the answer; I just know that it needs to change.
It’s unlikely that I will ever see healthcare equal and fair to everyone in my lifetime. If you don’t know the numbers by now, Black American women have the highest infant mortality rate in the United States. I don’t know the reasons behind it; I just know the numbers. I have not completed detailed research on the number of Black children diagnosed with cancer and their stages versus the stages of White children. But I have done research that shows that children who live in low-income and impoverished conditions are more likely to relapse than those who do not. I think it’s safe to assume access to proper health care alongside racial disparities are the problems.
These disparities are harsh. Some people have to decide whether to treat their child or pay for rent, food, and other things to support their family. If they do not do pay for the essentials, they will likely go into deep poverty. Does this mean that this doesn’t happen within the White community or other communities? It happens there too. But where do the percentages lie in the highest numbers? They lie within people of color.
Things need to change. Today, with the amount of racism aimed towards Asian Americans and Black Americans, and other minorities, we have to realize that their lives matter, their children’s lives matter. If you can sit and tell me that a child diagnosed with cancer, whether or not they are Black, Latino, Asian, or any other minority, their lives matter less than a White child’s; then I don’t know what to say.
The reaches are far beyond the care for a minority child with cancer. I’m not just talking about a child that has medical complexities. I’m talking about children’s families that are asking for assistance through fundraising. Statistically speaking, I don’t know off the top of my head, but a Black child will have a more challenging time filling their dream than a White child. This is unacceptable. When I spoke to a Black woman recently about her child who needed speech therapy and testing for autism, she had to threaten to take legal action before the doctors would even listen to her. Is that a way to live? Is that equal? Would you feel like your life mattered if you had to threaten? I would feel like my life didn’t matter to that individual. I would feel like my child’s life didn’t matter either.
I am ambitious and want to stick to my mission 100%. My mission is to support, inform, and promote hope. I try not to bring politics into anything. However, when I reflected on something that I heard from an individual, I said that it does fit my mission, and if I don’t say it, then I’m complicit. Well, I am not complicit. I’m here to inform you, and I am telling you that there is a problem.
Imagine that you are a person of color, and you see a White child with cancer, and their dreams are filled, their needs are met for fundraising and other great things, but as a Black family, you struggle to make any of this a reality. I would be heartbroken. Not for a second do I blame or say that any nonprofits are doing this; they are not. Instead, it happens behind the scenes, especially with donations, it occurs with quality of care, and it happens with direct or indirect communication to a patient. Bluntly put, it happens. That is the definition of systemic racism.
There is no immediate solution to it until people start thinking differently. Maybe to promote change, ask yourself, “how can I help that person.” Understand that there are differences and challenges that minorities are experiencing or likely experiencing that you are not. Again for those already out there fighting for change, you are greatly appreciated and amazing people. Also, for the hospitals and doctors fighting against systemic racism, leading the way for others is not easy, but it is noble.