“Without social justice, there is no public health.” Dr. Brown
I’ve mentioned, on occasion, that my academic background is in public health. I still remember the beginning of my first public health class. The professor began by asking a question: How many of you think race is biological? She polled the class, shared the results of the poll on a big screen, and proceeded with the following sentence: Well, race is a social construct. Let’s explore why this is core knowledge for public health studies.
The professor who came to be my academic advisor, would often repeat the following in many of his classes: “Without social justice, there is no public health.” My advisor is a medical historian. Dr. Brown would always emphasize the importance of knowing history – understanding context provides understanding of the present. The past just doesn’t simply disappear – he would often remind us. Professor Brown taught in a systems-thinking style that didn’t seek to isolate subject matters. In order to truly understand public health in the United States, he emphasized it was vital we understood the economic interests of this country, its history and philosophy, as well as the science.
Below, I’ve shared a set of slides that talk about medical racism in the United States. Please note that while these slides contain valuable information, the implications of this information is limited . This information is from Instagram – source. It’s really difficult to convey depth, nuance, and analytics via social media – the platforms are the antithesis of analysis. In addition to the information in the slides below – I’d like to also point to additional compounding effects that contribute to medical racism and the racial wellness divide in this country: (1) The racial wealth gap and the relationship between socioeconomic status and health (subcategory: neighborhood socioeconomic status and health), (2) The allostatic overload – the relationship between race, wealth, and stress, (3) Cultural trauma and epigenetic inheritance.