I also spoke about the inherent biases that are baked into our healthcare system, which leads to Black parents dying and Black children being denied adequate medical care.
It’s not lost on me that this year’s Black History Month theme is Black Health and Wellness.
In fact, it makes me angry.
Angry because it feels like we’ve made very little progress towards health equity.
Not enough is being done, and now we have to take matters into our own hands.
In recognition and revolutionary celebration of this year’s Black History Month...
Here are 3 things we can do today to help combat racism in healthcare:
1. We can raise funds to support Black doctors.
It’s clear that having access to more Black doctors is a step in the right direction for Black and brown patients to receive appropriate medical care.
BUT (and I hate that there are SO many “but”s in this conversation)...
Medical school is expensive, even for well-off families.
For most Black and brown families, it’s nothing more than a pipedream.
The average cost of medical school is $54,698 per year. Meanwhile, according to statista.com, as of 2020, the median income for Black households was $45,870 per year.
Apart from medical school costing more per year than most Black families’ combined salaries, there’s also the threat of student loan debt and lack of relevant and accessible scholarships.
In a recent NPR report, Dr. Cedric Bright, Dean of Admissions at East Carolina University's medical school, says that “staggering debt loads discourage many would-be doctors from even applying,” and that most scholarships are merit-based, not need-based.
This automatically filters out so many young Black and brown students with dreams of helping other people, who have been held back by financial circumstances created and perpetuated by our wider society.
We need Black doctors, but the barrier to entry in the medical system is ridiculously high. Black and brown aspiring doctors need money to get into medical school, but they’re faced with a wage gap of epic proportions.
And that’s where you and I come in. Yes, you, my dear reader.
If you’re a millionaire, a small percentage of your income can help at least one student in need.
(If you earn $1 million a year, a donation to someone’s medical school tuition would only be 5.5% of your income. If you earn $10 million a year, it would be even less — 0.55%.)
If you’re not a millionaire (yet) but you’re passionate about this cause, get together with a group of people in your circle and challenge yourselves to raise money for students.
If you own a business, think about ways you can connect your product or service to a relevant scholarship fund or charity. Not only will you be helping Black students, you’ll also be helping your business by attracting folks who care about the causes you’re supporting.
Visit crowdfunding websites like GoFundMe and search key phrases like “Black student in need” or “Medical school tuition”. Find 3 people that you can support, even with as little as $10 each.
Trust me when I say your help, no matter how small, goes FAR.
2. We can raise funds to support Black parents.
I founded it because I want to see more Black parents have access to childcare and birthing services like night nurses and doulas. The same services that helped make my 3rd birthing experience so much easier, safer, and more peaceful than my first two.
Our goal is to raise $1 million by the end of 2022 to support thousands of Black parents and their children before, during, and after childbirth.
There’s also Dove’s Black Birth Equity Fund which has a similar mission — to help close the gap in care and improve health outcomes for Black expectant mothers, birthing individuals, and their babies.
There are a few other charitable organizations whose work focuses on assisting Black and POC parents in need. Find one and help out in any way you can.
3. We can raise our voices.
Get out to the polls and vote for changemakers who support health equity and denounce systemic racism in healthcare — not just with words, but with actions.
Speak out about unfair treatment towards Black and brown parents and children, not just in hospitals and clinics, but in schools, government institutions… heck, even the grocery store.
Tell your rich peers in high places. Tell your white, Black, and brown friends and family who have access to people, policymakers, and resources.
Spread the word on social media. Here are some graphics you can share with statistics about the Black birthing experience that could spur your followers into action.
The more we keep quiet about this problem, the more it festers and goes unresolved. The more we open this conversation, the more light we bring to the situation and the more impact we will make.
There is much work to be done if we want to create an environment that acknowledges the needs of Black and brown parents and children, and systems that support equitable and accessible care for ALL.
But we can start with small steps — baby steps — every single day.
Let’s come together to create the change we want to see in this world.