Moments after the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, I immediately went to Facebook to see how my friends, old and new, felt about the ruling. Besides reading posts from my fellow journalist friends and DC political junkies, surprisingly the historic ruling didn’t get much traffic on my timeline, particularly from people in my hometown. Why?
The disparities that African-Americans face in the healthcare system are staggering:
- 21 percent of blacks are uninsured compared to 11.7 percent of white Americans;
- African-Americans and Hispanic Americans are far more likely to rely on hospitals or clinics for their usual source of care than white Americans (16 and 13 percent, respectively, versus 8 percent);
- For all cancers, the death rate is 25 percent higher for African-Americans compared to whites;
- 25 percent of African-Americans do not have a regular doctor compared to only one-fifth of whites;
- And when minorities do finally get a diagnosis, usually it is at a later stage of the disease.
Need I go on…
So, if any group should have a vested interest in how the Supreme Court ruled, it should be people of color. Right?
Whenever there’s a BET Awards show on or if someone on Love & Hip Hop (which I do not watch) does something totally outrageous, my Facebook timeline is inundated with comments from friends debating the events as they occur. Videos of people fighting in Memphis (my hometown) on Socialcam are posted as “Trending Videos” on my feed. When an NBA player’s baby’s mama’s child support dispute is reported on some gossip site, the story goes viral on Facebook. But when the Supreme Court rules on one of the most important pieces of legislation that directly affects our health and well-being, there’s silence. It’s incomprehensible.
No matter what political isle you sit on, the future of this country depends upon how we treat our citizens and ourselves. We would never purchase a car and drive it without car insurance, so shouldn’t our bodies be treated the same way? As a people, sometimes we put more value in what we’re wearing and what’s parked in our driveways than how we treat and what we digest into our own bodies. Not only are we feeding ourselves unhealthy foods, causing some of our health disparities, but we are also feeding our minds with unhealthy information.
I’m not saying that you should give up on your daily dose of gossip and reality television, but diversify the information that you read and watch. Become more engaged in the policies that are put in place by our elected leaders. You might think that what happens in Washington, D.C. does not affect you, but actually it does. When all of the components of the Affordable Care Act go into effect over the course of the next two years, it will impact all of us.
As citizens, we need to be more concerned about the legislative process than we do about the latest happenings with Kanye and Kim.