“If you want to feed a person, you pay a man,” says Joy Altimare of EHE Health, one the sponsors of our first-ever Root Institute. “But if you want to feed a village or a community, you make sure a woman is actually enabled to take care of herself and her children.” The direct links between race and gender pay equity and the health of our communities are just one of many topics discussed by Altimare, along with Planned Parenthood Federation of America President and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson and Dr. Joia Crear-Perry, founder of the National Birth Equity Collaborative, in a conversation about Black health moderated by me, The Glow Up’s Maiysha Kai.
Each of these women is a leader in her respective field and is uniquely positioned to understand the myriad issues impacting Black communities as we continue to combat centuries of institutional bias and systemic and environmental racism. As we are all too aware at this point, each of these factors has left our communities especially vulnerable to COVID-19—as well as a persistent lack of access to basic and reproductive healthcare and a host of other issues we’ve lately begun to refer to as “preexisting conditions.” As a result, Blackness itself has become a risk factor for COVID-19 and maternal mortality, regardless of one’s socioeconomic level.
“You can’t buy your way out of this,” Altimare reminds us.
“If the underlying framework is that some people have value and some don’t, you’re going to keep seeing people make choices around who has value and who does not,” says Dr. Perry. McGill Johnson (coincidentally Perry’s Alpha Kappa Alpha line sister), agrees, urging us to further consider how intersectionality is reflected in our public policies—including how police and military budgets often exceed those of public health—when she says:
“Where you set your priorities inside of a budget shows exactly who you value.”
Debuting this afternoon at the Root Institute is a comprehensive, frank, passionate and occasionally humorous discussion of the historical disparities in health for our communities and their current implications, as well as Black women’s health and how COVID-19 has uniquely impacted African Americans.
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