Black Man in a White Coat Response

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    Hannah Whittington

    Black Man in a White Coat Forum Post
    “Black Man in a White Coat” by Damon Tweedy has opened my eyes to the racial discrimination present in our country’s healthcare system. One of Tweedy’s stories that stuck out to me particularly was that of Lucy, a black woman who had a heart attack as a result of her son being arrested. Lucy was overweight and had hypertension, which according to Tweedy is more common in members of the African-American community than other races. This has to do with economic factors: many of these people cannot afford to buy healthy food, or get a gym membership. According to Tweedy, “Lucy had been a walking billboard for health disparities: hypertension and diabetes are far more common in blacks compared to whites, and black women are almost twice as likely as white women to be obese” (Tweedy 83). While these factors contributed to her heart disease, Tweedy later finds out what the main trigger was. He states: “though we were standing in an emergency room, and Lucy had died from a medical problem, its context was social. The stress of her son becoming a statistic, another black man locked up, had been too much” (Tweedy 86). This story in particular really made me grasp Tweedy’s meaning behind the statement “being black can be bad for your health.” Other peoples’ relationship with the police is not the same as African-Americans. So many young black men are locked away every year, sometimes unjustly. Seeing her own son become one of these men, “a statistic,” caused Lucy’s heart attack which resulted in her sudden death. Had she been white, this may not have happened, and she would still be alive. Tweedy implies her health may not have been poor in the first place had she been white. This book also made me realize how much of a privilege it is to have healthcare. When I am sick, my only concern is getting better; not how to pay for my treatment. But not everyone has this privilege, such as Pearl and Tina from the clinic. Stories like theirs show why universal healthcare is such a pressing matter. This book revealed many problems with the healthcare system I was not previously aware of.

    Tweedy, Damon. Black Man in a White Coat. Picador, New York. 2015.

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