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On the Corner of Homicide and Health at the Intersection of Race

I found this essay to be informative and enlightening about some of the ways in which race, ethnicity, and health intersect on a macro level. Not only is the system fundamentally flawed because its inequality is based upon discriminatory and even racist practices, but also the ways in which problems of inequality are approached reinforces the social hierarchy of privilege and power. When inequality in health care is talked about, it is usually addressed on an individual, micro level that stems from the “hegemony of biomedical conceptions of and approaches to health in the United States.” Looking at how the social structures and systematic effects on a population-level affect the disparity of health in this country is a more effective method to understanding the problems and developing solutions.

While not surprising, some of the statistics of mortality and disease in different racial/ethnic groups were distressing. It is unacceptable that African American women have an infant mortality rate more than double the amount among White women. One statistic that particularly stood out to me in the essay because it relates to our topic of violence was the statistic on homicide as a cause of mortality. African Americans are 5.68 times, and Hispanics are 1.97 times, more likely to die from homicide than Whites. (Some more statistics from the Bureau of Justice can be found here.)

This article also offers some disturbing statistics, and offers the fact that most African American murder victims are young men killed by other young men. “The mixture of illegal drugs, easy access to handguns and young men who feel locked out of economic opportunity is what these statistics reflect,” according to one source from the article. To be sure, the disparity of homicide as a cause of mortality stems from environmental, socioeconomic, and class factors as well as systematic discrimination.

Violence stemming from these social causes may in turn end up perpetuating inequality if those at the top of the social hierarchy do not recognize, or choose not to acknowledge it out of fear, the underlying problems that lead to the violence. Therefore, it is necessary to examine differing rates of violence across racial/ethnic groups in a larger context that considers the complex nature of social forces. Health inequality stems from social inequality, and social change is necessary for the improvement of disparities of health.

– Kaela Gullion

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2 responses to “On the Corner of Homicide and Health at the Intersection of Race

  1. Your argument that social change is necessary for the improvement of health disparities is not only true for national issues of health, but also for global health disparities. Non-communicable diseases are the leading cause for death in the United States, while communicable diseases are abundant in Africa. Homicide and suicide are among leading DALYs in the US, but not in the developing world. Perhaps on a global level, we should study the health inequalities that result from the exploitation of the developing world by the developed world.

  2. The whole system is flawed. One thing that came to my mind when you spoke about the statistics on homicide African American and Hispanic victims is the War on Drugs which is a major cause of homicides, murders, and deaths both in the United States and abroad. Although the people of colored may be labeled as savages due to these high homicide rates, most of these deaths could be prevented if guns laws were a lot more strict, and the socio-economic problems these people face were resolved.
    Edwin Gonzalez

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