Racism as a Health Issue?

By Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryRecently, the state of Illinois government has identified racism as a “health issue.” Because of this, the state will take whatever action it needs to for fighting racism. Hmmm. I always thought of racism as a legal issue more than anything else. If the state means that fighting racism means fighting inequality in health care, then maybe. But health care at this point is just as much an issue in of itself because of income inequality which affects everyone regardless of race. There are far more people who are white and have little to no health care coverage than just about all other racial groups put together. I am not by any stretch of the imagination saying that race does not play an issue in regards to receiving even adequate health care, but I believe that health care or lack of it thereof is a concern for everyone who is poor and has little to no way to buy insurance on the market.

If the state wants to fight racism as both a health issue and a legal issue, then the state is badly prepared to do this. What are we supposed to do if we fight racism in both terms? The whole state legal system is badly clogged with legal cases dealing with racism as it is. Such cases are taking months and even years. If a person needs help in fighting racial discrimination in receiving health care benefits that they are entitled to, then they could be waiting a very long time. Hell, they could easily be dead by then. The state needs to find a way to cut through all of the legal red tape to try and help people who might feel they are being discriminated against and need health care now. And then the next question is what exactly constitutes health care discrimination of racial minorities in the first place? From what reports I have read, it does not seem the state is exactly prepared to deal with this issue on this level.

If fighting racism as a health issue means hiring more people in the health care industry, then it is still in too many ways a legal issue. While I certainly believe that racial minorities should be hired in the health care sector (if they qualify), then I am all on board with this. Yes, I am sure that there is still a preference for white people than other races in hiring, and this should be addressed. Still, I feel that the state is far from equipped in handling this. It has not defined what racism as a health issue is exactly, it has not come up with a clear-cut and specific plan on how to deal with it, and how to cut through all of the red tape in dealing with the issue to help those in need. Forming committees to study the issue only kicks this can down the road and solved nothing. So my next question to the Illinois state government is, where do we go from here?

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