Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Summer 2020 - 7

While a multiplicity of factors have been cited as contributing
to this disparity, they all stem from one root cause: the history of
slavery in America and our toleration of the systemic, institutional,
and interpersonal racial discrimination that has never been
abolished. It is no accident that black children in America are
much more likely than white children to receive a substandard
public education, have to borrow more to attend college, graduate
at a much lower rate, earn less than their white counterparts with
comparable education, are more likely to default on student loans,
are less likely to own a home, save less for retirement, and have less
to leave to the next generation.

in many poorer neighborhoods, reduced access to healthcare, and
the high risk of exposure to the disease in the occupations in which
African Americans are overrepresented, and you have the perfect
storm to produce a disparate burden of COVID 19 disease.

African Americans are about 2.5 times as likely to live in poverty
as white Americans, and living in poverty leads to higher rates of
disease related to factors such as chronic stress, reduced access to
healthy food, reduced access to health care, and increased exposure
to lead, mercury, particulates, and other pollutants damaging to
health. Black mothers are more than 3 times as likely to die from
causes related to pregnancy than white women, and infant mortality
is significantly higher in black babies. 73% of non-Hispanic blacks
in America reported being overweight or obese compared to 65% of
non-Hispanic whites. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that
diabetes and hypertension are more prevalent in black Americans as
well, conditions which-along with obesity-are strongly associated
with increased risk for severe disease and death from COVID 19.
Combine this increased vulnerability with crowded living conditions

These outcomes are the result of neglect on the part of public
policymakers and, more significantly, of intentional racism enshrined
in legislation and institutional norms. It is no accident that black
Americans are over six times as likely as whites to be incarcerated, or
that it is common for black men to be stopped or harassed by police
with no provocation. The failure of our country to put a stop to the
killing of unarmed black men-even when subdued and in police
custody-is the most gut-wrenching and heinous manifestation of
our tolerance of racism. In the video of the killing of George Floyd
on May 25 by a white police officer, who pressed his knee on the
neck of a handcuffed man as he lay on the ground until he died, we
saw the plight of far too many black Americans manifested in the
flesh. At long, long last I fervently hope we have reached the limit of
our tolerance.
What do we owe now to the African American community? We must
listen, we must hear, we must believe what we hear, and we must work
and keep working until the wrongs have been redressed and our country
truly lives up to the ideal of equal opportunity and we have liberty and
justice for all.

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SUMMER 2020

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Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Summer 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Summer 2020

Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Summer 2020 - 1
Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Summer 2020 - 2
Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Summer 2020 - 3
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