This Atlantic piece is an important article to read, in the context of Republican obstruction of governance in the U.S.
Here is the key paragraph for me:
“In 1889 and 1890, Congress added North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, Idaho, and Wyoming—the largest admission of states since the original 13. This addition of 12 new senators and 18 new electors to the Electoral College was a deliberate strategy of late-19th-century Republicans to stay in power after their swing toward Big Business cost them a popular majority. The strategy paid dividends deep into the future; indeed, the admission of so many rural states back then helps to explain GOP control of the Senate today, 130 years later.”
Good Ideas to Gather Round:
Like a campfire, good ideas give light, and warmth and comfort.
Today’s good idea:
It’s a good idea to give Washington D.C statehood because: (points taken directly from https://statehood.dc.gov/page/why-statehood-dc )
- Washington, DC is a historically Black city and Black people still make 47% of the population (41% White, 4% Asian and 11% are of Hispanic origins).
- American democracy systematically overrepresents White voters at the expense of Black voters and other voters of color.
- The District of Columbia is the only political and geographical entity within the United States of America whose citizens bear the responsibilities of citizenship, including taxation and Selective Service registration, without sharing in the full rights and privileges of citizenship.
- Washington’s residents pay more taxes than residents in 22 states and pay more per capita to the federal government than any state—yet they have no votes in Congress.
Awful but very important to learn about:
Black babies are less likely to die when cared for by Black doctors… a finding arrived at by researchers who analysed 1.8 million hospital births in Florida from 1992 to 2015.
The study highlights that ‘caring’ is an important feature of medical care, and provides data to support an assertion that to ‘caring’ levels are collectively lower when there is a potential ‘tribe disparity’ between a white doctor and a vulnerable Black patient.
Here is the link to the peer reviewed study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) last year (2020).
If you visit the link, you will be able to see the study I am referencing exists, but you will not be able to access the full published article. You can see only a couple of important details, including this quote:
“..] found that deaths were fewer by 257 in 100 000 among black newborns under the care of black doctors, when compared with care by white doctors.
Here is a link to a media story on the report which you *will* actually be able to read all the way through.
And here is a key quote from that story: “Now a study suggests that when Black newborns are treated by Black physicians after birth, the mortality disparity between Black and white babies shrinks.”
I imagine that most (white) people’s brains will recoil from the potential implications of the report. That subconsciously, at least some white doctors invest less care in patients they feel less ‘tribal’ empathy with, presumably as a consequence of exposure to / and adoption of stratified ideas of worth along racial lines.
If your brain is still fighting .. and you want to find an explanation that would rule out subconscious or conscious racial bias on the part of doctors in the US, here is another article to help you accept this credible finding of systematic discrimination.
How the headline looks if you visit the link:
Black newborns more likely to die when looked after by White doctors
Updated 0840 GMT (1640 HKT) August 20, 2020
So, good luck to all of us in relation to coming to terms with that! “Normalacy bias” is a phenomenon that makes people want to see systems as inherently “not that bad”… but normalcy bias isn’t an ok thing to hold on tight to, when evidence like this is presented to us.
I’m sure it’s disappointing but not altogether surprising for many of the people who have fought for equal protection under the law for their whole lives..for themselves and their communities.
Many have argued for a long time that systemic anti-Black bias exists across all institutions in the U.S, which is an argument for broad alliances advocating for, and achieving needed reforms.
As 12 step programs typically argue, awareness of a problem is a key step to remediating problems.
I’m just going to conclude this blog with a second medical journal publication. This time, relating to hair modification chemicals. When beauty standards undervalue natural Black hair, and women feel pressured to straighten their hair for a ‘professional’ look, then the health of Black women is potentially compromised. Use of chemical hair ‘relaxers’ is linked to increased incidence of uterine leiomyomatas.
[ Hair Relaxer Use and Risk of Uterine Leiomyomata in African-American Women, 2012 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3282879/%5D
Here’s an introductory paragraph from the article to shed some light on what that means:
“Uterine leiomyomata are tumors of the myometrium that are responsive to estrogens and progesterone. Although benign, uterine leiomyomata are associated with significant gynecologic morbidity and are the leading indication for hysterectomy in the United States (1, 2). The incidence of uterine leiomyomata is 2–3 times higher in US black women than in US white women (3, 4), and the lifetime risk of uterine leiomyomata—based on ultrasound evidence of preclinical and clinical disease—is estimated to be as high as 80% in US black women (4). The black-white disparity in uterine leiomyomata risk is not explained by established risk factors (3, 5).”
My attempt at translation : growths on the uterus are not immediately harmful, but their presence is associated with higher risk of dying in childbirth or pregnancy (‘gynecologic morbidity’) *and* is also a significant risk factor for needing a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus).
Black women are 2 to 3 times more likely to have these growths than white women in the US. As many as 80% of Black women are thought to experience these internal growths over their lifetime (an estimate derived from studies using ultrasound evidence). Researchers haven’t yet agreed on why there should be such high prevalence of the condition amongst Black US women as opposed to white (‘Black-white disparity’).
There. That’s my contribution today to understanding some of the current colour dynamics at play in the United States.
Thanks for reading!