June 4, 2020
Readers—I’m not sure how to put this delicately or politely. There’s no way to put what’s happened in the past few weeks in delicate or polite terms. We know that racism exists in America. CEOs and entrepreneurs from multiple sectors have admitted and condemned that reality in recent weeks in the wake of protests calling out police brutality.
But the inequality we’ve seen manifest itself during these times is nothing new, especially when it comes to healthcare. The fact of the matter is that black and brown Americans have consistently, through no fault of their own, been sicker, had less access to health care, and died younger than their fellow white peers. Coronavirus has only underscored those realities.
Nationally, black Americans account for about 13% of the U.S. population but 24% of the coronavirus deaths for which racial or ethnic information was available as of June 2, according to The COVID Tracking Project.
That may help explain why, per the Pew Research Center, people of color are less willing to trust the medical community at large—it’s possible they just don’t think the healthcare industry has their back.
It’s an even broader issue, though. Bernard Tyson, the late CEO of Kaiser Permanente, was an evangelist of the concept that societal inequality has led to different health outcomes for communities of color—the social determinants of health.
Living in an environment where the air you breathe is poisoned or where poverty restricts your access to healthy food or where it takes hours to get to a hospital can cut years off of your life, according to this theory. It’s a complicated science but one worth considering in this moment.
On a different but related note—our annual Brainstorm Health conference is going digital this year on July 7 and 8. We’ve gathered a group that includes the CEOs of Johnson & Johnson, Amgen, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Baxter, Centene, and others. Check it all out here.
And on another relevant note: Many companies are speaking out against racial injustices right now. But how do they fare in their own workplaces? Black employees in the corporate world, we want to hear from you: Please submit your anonymous thoughts and anecdotes here.
Read on for the day’s news. And see you next week.