This is What White Supremacy in Medical Research Looks Like

There’s something that’s been bothering me since I first saw it about a year ago:

but a study published on Tuesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that Southern cuisine does not serve very well African Americans, whose ancestors imagined and perfected it. The Southern diet may be at the center of a tangle of reasons why blacks in the United States are more prone to high blood pressure than whites.

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham analyzed data collected from nearly 7,000 men and women over the age of 45 living across the United States (not just the South) over a decade. Their goal: to find out why black Americans are at higher risk of high blood pressure.

Over the course of the study, 46 percent of black participants and 33 percent of white participants developed hypertension, and diet appeared to explain much of the disparity.

Black participants were much more likely than white participants to follow a Southern-style diet, which the researchers defined as one that primarily includes fried foods, organ meats and processed meats, dairy, sugary drinks and bread. And this diet was more strongly correlated with hypertension than any other factor the researchers measured, including participants’ stress and depression levels, exercise habits, income, or educational level.

46% of black study participants and 33% of white participants developed high blood pressure over the course of the study. That’s a 13% difference. Thirteen percent.

“If you think about [the] disparity: the life expectancy of African Americans is approximately 3.5 or 4 years less,” said a professor at the university in question. Apparently, the diet is to blame.

What I don’t understand is how you come to that conclusion about a segment of the population when the rate of heart disease nationwide has been on the rise for at least a decade, completely regardless of race, gender, or geographic region[1].

What’s more, I’m not sure how to discount the socioeconomic aspects of health disparities, when black people in the United States are much less likely to have the kind of health insurance that would help provide care to those with early symptoms of chronic diseases.[2].

Having the type of job that allows you to access health insurance is already a privilege. States with the largest number of uninsured residents There are also states, like Alabama, that prohibit union labor, one of the few ways residents can ensure they have quality health care.

There is a crisis occurring in this country: we are collectively dependent on the products of a food industry that sells us items designed to be consumed and digested quickly, craved to an unhealthy degree, contributing to rising rates of chronic disease for the population. all. Only those who have the ability to access and pay for the freshest products as well as having the time and skills to cook it can escape it.

If that is the case, why is it necessary to single out black people? I have a guess.

The Southern Diet, the one black people are “most likely to eat”[3] It’s not even remotely different from any other culture-focused diet in terms of macronutrient profiles. Many products, a lot of bread to accompany those products and many cuts of meat that are not top quality. That is different and that has What changes in the course of preparing these meals in the United States is the quality of the ingredients. There are a lot of fillers, preservatives, different types of salt and additives. sugar to “make it taste better.”

And every cultural staple in America has had this infusion of additives: pasta, tortillas, pitas, and more. Additives make it easier to enjoy food even though the most abundant (read: most important) elements have been removed: protein, fat, and fiber. Pasta, often made with semolina flour and egg, has been reduced to flour, additives and water; corn tortillas, reduced to the starchy parts of the corn and some additives, and don’t even get me started on flour tortillas. They’re just made differently now.

In reality, now each food is made differently. It is what contributes to the problem of chronic diseases.

However, it is a special kind of pattern when we isolate a particular negative trait and claim that the reason a certain population experiences it is because they indulge in their own non-white culture.

The collective understanding of white supremacy, and all those who seek to benefit from it, has a mandate: every time you see a person or group suffering that is not white, not Anglo-Saxon, not heterosexual, not Protestant, explain their pain. by proclaiming that it is because of their refusal to give up their non-white, non-Anglo, non-heterosexual, non-Protestant customs: ways of dressing, ways of worshiping, ways of communicating, ways of eating. And that’s how, even though all is experiencing higher rates of chronic diseases, of the blacks the specific suffering is due to their own cultural eating habits, even though that chronic disease hasn’t existed for as long as black people ate that food and those chronic disease rates only appeared around the same time as the explosion of food processing .

When a problem becomes “a black problem,” it is no longer a “national” problem that must be solved by allbecause it is a “community problem” that is caused by your community. I don’t have to carethey think. That’s his problemthey think. They simply need…, they think.

Ultimately, this means that white supremacy treats basic human instincts like “empathy” as a scarce resource; We are saying that we don’t have to worry about your community and what happens to you.

When medical research employs this approach, isolating the health conditions of a particular population and blaming their culture rather than the much more realistic reason for disparities in access to health care, it operates in the service of white supremacy. and It further fuels the distrust that marginalized populations have in healthcare and science in general. It absolves medical science and the health care industry of their responsibility to devise strategies to reach, touch, and save those beyond the few who can afford it. Is not a us problem. Is your culture.

It is dangerous, scary, and irresponsible to use the reputation of a major institution to perpetuate the myths that white supremacy creates about culture and community, to pretend that culture causes harm that greater access to care cannot cure. Not only must we denounce it at all times, but we must also counter it at every opportunity we have. If we don’t, the integrity of medical science and healthcare is at stake.

Photo credit: Flickr / Jennifer Woodard Mazerado

Footnotes:

[1]—“The mortality rate from this chronic and debilitating disease increased by 20.7% between 2011 and 2017 and is likely to continue to increase dramatically, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Cardiology.

The rapid aging of the population, along with high rates of obesity and diabetes at all ages, are raising both the rate and number of deaths from heart failure, according to the study. Most heart failure deaths occur in older Americans, but they are also increasing in adults younger than 65, the study showed.Wall Street Journal, October 30, 2019 (Click here to return to the paragraph.)

[2]—Before the [Affordable Care Act (ACA)]About 19 percent of the non-elderly American population was uninsured () but the prevalence of uninsurance differed substantially by race/ethnicity. About twenty percent of African Americans were uninsured. By comparison, non-Hispanic whites had an uninsurance rate of about thirteen percent (). About 18 percent of Asians were uninsured. Hispanics had the highest prevalence of uninsurance; About a third of Hispanics living in the United States did not have health insurance. Researchers cite low income and the propensity to work in jobs without health benefits as the primary causes of high rates of uninsurance among African Americans (Institute of Medicine 2003). Studies say these low-income jobs pay too much to qualify for public assistance, but pay too little to afford private insurance policies, leaving individuals and families living without coverage (). [Sohn H. Racial and ethnic disparities in health insurance coverage: Dynamics of gaining and losing coverage over the life-course. Population Research and Policy Review. 2017;36(2):181–201.] (Click here to return to the paragraph.)

[3]—Can we stop this nonsense quickly and acknowledge that this is not the case? nobody In Aunt Pookie’s Land eating nothing but soul food three times a day, seven days a week? I could cook on Sunday and that meal could lasts until Tuesday for lunch. Because? Because soul food is so labor-intensive, it’s not possible for anyone to cook it often enough to all what you are eating is food for the soul. It’s literally impossible. (Click here to return to the paragraph.)

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