Deadly Health Impacts of Racism from Cradle to Grave

Gulf Shores     The American Association of Pediatrics has released a study that has been several years in the making on the impact of racism on children, and it’s devastating.  It starts early, even in the womb and has serious health impacts right up to a too early grave.

The litany of impacts is jolting according to the doctors and the list of adverse medical problems is extensive.  Here’s a short list:

  • Low birth weights
  • High maternal mortality
  • Socially transmitted from generation to generation
  • Less access to prenatal care
  • Inferior medical facilities
  • High rates of heart disease
  • Excessive rates of hypertension
  • Chronic stress leading to chronic diseases
  • Unacknowledged biases from medical personnel
  • Behavior problems and attention deficit disorder

And, it goes on and on.

The doctors have some recommendations.   Wisely, there first order of business is “heal thyself.”  They advise children’s doctors and hospitals to make sure that everything a child sees and experiences in the healthcare environment is multi-cultural from magazines to dolls to hopefully staffing.  They want pediatrician’s offices to be a “safe space” for families and children experience racism and are encouraging their members to go past the length of the stethoscope and ask about racism, bullying, and other social impacts that may be harming the health of children.

The New York Times’ report quotes several doctors alarmingly:

Dr. Spinks-Franklin, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician, said that racial awareness in children follows a set of milestones. By the time children are 3, she said, they begin to recognize normal human variations, including skin color, but without assigning value to them. “A 4-year-old recognizes basic racial stereotypes,” she said. Parents need to be aware of what their children are watching, and provide diverse books and stories with strong positive models.

By age 7, she said, children develop racial permanency, “where you recognize the body you’re born in is the body you have, your skin color isn’t going to change drastically.” Around 9, as part of their identity development, they become more aware of what place their own cultural group holds in society. “When I was 9, I knew exactly what racism looked like and how it felt and how it manifested itself,” said Dr. Spinks-Franklin, who is African-American.

And then in adolescence, as children explore racial and cultural identity, they tend to show strong preferences for their own groups, sorting themselves out by table in the cafeteria.  The goal of racial identity development, Dr. Spinks-Franklin said, is by young adulthood to have a healthy sense of who you are, recognizing your own cultural group without demonizing others. But not everyone gets there.

The doctors’ message seems clear.  Unless racism is attacked early and beaten back quickly with young children, it becomes a lifetime and fatal affliction.  This seems a call-to-action for Head Start, preschool, and the early years of elementary schools to train teachers, support staff, and, yes, even parents of children of all races, so that they seeds are snuffed out early and not allowed to grow into diseases that kill people and our whole society later.

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Please enjoy “Freeway of Love” by Aretha Franklin. Thanks to KABF.

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Fighting the NIMBYs on Affordable Housing

New Orleans City Council Meeting 05.23.2019 on housing development in the Bywater neighborhood.

New Orleans     Sadly, it’s not just an aberration in my own neighborhood where bizarrely the “not in my back yard” crowd fought fiercely to block the return of affordable housing to a long established Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) site.  It seems to be almost everywhere in big American cities with increasingly entitled, gentrifying faux-liberal populations.

In a small victory, the New Orleans City Council voted 6-0 with the uptown councilperson taking a powder, on a so-called “compromise” allowing the project to move forward with a slightly smaller footprint but at least holding on to the more than 80 affordable units that included slightly more than 50 market rate apartments.   The district councilwoman had been touting embarrassing and ridiculous proposals to try to pander to the NIMBY crowd that included some of the neighborhood, real-estate dominated civic associations.  One of the more bizarre had been an argument that she was for the number of affordable units, but wanted them spread all over town.  You can hear the dog whistle from here, can’t you?

Let’s be clear.  Affordable housing is an issue in New Orleans.  Repopulating African-American families in neighborhoods is also an issue for me and for people who care about the city post-Katrina, as well as diversity of race and income in neighborhoods like Bywater where I live that were solid multi-racial working class and lower income areas when we moved here decades ago.  To save face, when I can only believe that she couldn’t get any votes, our councilwoman pasted together a fig leaf compromise that allowed some of the NIMBYs say in the design of the project to try to salvage their claims about “neighborhood character” and “green space” as something other than hard core class and race bias.  Hopefully, this committee will not kowtow to this small entitled group.  The highlight for me was reading that another councilman following the vote, essentially chided the projects opponents saying that they needed to really look deeply into their real motivations. Amen!

More depressing was reading that the pretend-progressive California legislature scuttled a bill that would have repealed restrictive zoning for single-family housing near transit stops in order to allow lower income families more access to jobs and services.  The Times columnist reporting on this normally writes about tech issues, but the headline was “Nimby Liberals Make Cities Unlivable,” and he quoted George W. Bush’s comments about “catastrophic success” from the Iraq war.  What a double-shot to the gut!

City after city in the US, Canada, the European Union, Australia, and, OK, all around the world are fencing out people to create enclaves for the rich and white and forgetting the rest of what makes cities work.  Our back yards have no value without people, and people have to be our priority.  Lots of people, not just a few.

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Please enjoy Hamish Anderson’s What You Do To Me.

Thanks to KABF.

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