Community & Government

Black Health in America

Nikole Hannah-Jones juxtaposes the need for universal healthcare with the fact that Black people have one of the lowest life expectancies in America and have historically been underserved by a medical system that does not treat them equitably.

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Topics include: Case Study: Uncle Eddie • White Supremacy and Science • Unsuited for Freedom

Seven preeminent Black thought leaders share their insight on the reckoning with race in America in three parts: past, present, and future.

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[MUSIC PLAYING] - I grew up in a small town called Waterloo in the state of Iowa. And yes, before you ask, there are Black people in Iowa. Not many, but there are Black people everywhere, even if we're all related. So I grew up in a small Midwestern town, and my uncle Eddie was my favorite uncle. He was my father's younger brother. He was such a jokester and a hard worker, and I loved him a lot. When I graduated from the University of Notre Dame, I come from a family where only a couple of us had ever been to college, and I was the first to graduate college. And when my family drove from Waterloo to South Bend, we drove in a big caravan. And my Uncle Ed was on the campus of this private, wealthy university decked out in head to toe in all red. Red hat, red shirt, red pants, and red gators. And it was a beautiful thing to see because he was going to wear his very best for his favorite niece. My uncle Ed worked his whole life. He worked sometimes jobs with insurance and sometimes jobs that didn't have health insurance. And when he started having back problems, he went to the free clinic. But because he didn't have insurance, they wouldn't give him an MRI. They wouldn't give him the type of diagnostics that he needed. And he kept getting sicker and sicker, and finally was told to go see a chiropractor about the pain that he was having in his back. The last time that he goes to the chiropractor, the chiropractor hears something pop in his back, and my uncle can barely stand up. And they send him to emergency. And that's when he finally gets the MRI that he needed. And that MRI showed that my uncle had cancer. And not only did he have cancer, but he had cancer all over his body, and that likely these treatments of his back were actually helping to spread the cancer. It was only then, when my uncle was diagnosed with terminal cancer, that he was able to get health insurance in America because the terminal cancer made him disabled, and it was under disability that he was able to get Medicaid. And so he was receiving some of the best treatment that you can get in this country when it wouldn't matter, when he was going to die anyway. That was such an emblematic story of the Black experience, to be deeply sick and not believed, to work every day, backbreaking work, but not be able to afford health care treatment, to be forced to go to free clinics that won't treat you and don't respect you because you can't pay, even though you work every day, and to ultimately die at the age of 50, before he could get social security, before he could get any of the benefits that he had paid into his entire life. That story is not unique. I'm sure many of you have that same story in your family. The problem is we often see these as individual stories, when they are actually reflective of a larger system of disadvantage, a system that we don't value Black people and their health the same as other groups, of unequal medical care tha...

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From critical race theory to the 1619 Project, Black intellectuals are reshaping conversations on race in America. Now seven of those preeminent voices share their insight on the reckoning with race in America in three parts: past, present, and future. Gain a foundational understanding of the history of white supremacy and discover a path forward through the limitless capacity and resilience of Black love.

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Angela Davis, Cornel West, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Sherrilyn Ifill, Jelani Cobb, and John McWhorter

Seven preeminent Black thought leaders share their insight on the reckoning with race in America in three parts: past, present, and future.

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