The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services could prove vital in changing the tide of distrust between Black communities who have historically experienced health disparities due to 400 years of systemic racism.
The calls for President-elect Joe Biden to nominate a Black person for the cabinet post have grown louder, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Biden says that he’s committed to picking cabinet members who reflect a diverse America, but will he again listen like he did when it was expressed to him the importance of nominating a Black woman as vice president?
The transition from a Trump administration to Biden’s has become increasingly muddled because of Trump’s unwillingness to concede. Still, Biden forged forward to announce several cabinet members who will take office in January.
According to NBC News, several high-profile BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) candidates with experience in the medical industry have been touted as potential picks. They include New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Latinx former member of Congress and secretary of health; California Rep. Raul Ruiz, a Democrat and former physician and emergency room doctor who is also Latinx; California Rep. Karen Bass, the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and a former physician assistant who is Black; and Vivek Murthy, a former surgeon general who migrated from India and serves as a top adviser to Biden.
As you can see from that list, only one person is Black.
However, other non-BIPOC contenders remain under consideration, including Mandy Cohen, a former physician who served as Secretary of North Carolina’s Health and Human Services Department as well as the chief operating officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the Obama administration, and David Kessler, a physician and former commissioner of the Food and Drug Adminstration.
One of the most glaring topics permeating the consciousness of Black communities is COVID-19 and the Trump administration’s mishandling of the virus at all levels, further descending the country into a two-fold crisis of health and economic proportions. COVID-19 is now the third leading cause of death for Black people in America, according to the Brookings Institution.
“Joe Biden promised to have the back of Black folks and there’s maybe no better early signal than to have a Black person lead the Department of Health and Human services, said Maurice Mitchell, national director of the Working Families Party, in a statement to NewsOne. “However that mistrust, combined with economic inequality and racism is a fatal cocktail for us. We have the begin to turn the page. Seeing someone who looks like us that has a track record of working for the people and not big pharma or the insurance lobby leading the department would be an excellent start.”
The Department of Health and Human Services should play a vital role in reversing the distrust between Black and communities of color in America. And nominating a Black person to lead the department could help jumpstart a path of reversal. Especially with the rollout of the coronavirus vaccines, an additional topic of skepticism among Black communities.
From the founding practices of gynecology and obstetrics to the Tuskegee experiment to the horrific exploitation of Henrietta Lacks‘ cells, there exists very good reason. In today’s society, we know that doctors believe Black patients can withstand more pain, Black women are more prone to die post-childbirth and Black babies are more likely to die in the hands of white doctors than Black doctors. Not to mention the silent and obtuse killers in Black communities like hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and sickle cell. The data exists, but the action to correlate the intense experiences of stress fueled by racism has yet to take effect in treatment and diagnosis.
While placing a Black person in positions of power is not the cure-all to reverse 400 years of systemic racism, the time to account for the sins of the past and begin the path to healing after hundreds of years of injustice is now.
Notable Black Folks Who Have Contracted The Coronavirus
1. Usain Bolt, Olympic gold medalist1 of 59
2. Gil Bailey, radio pioneer2 of 59
3. Keisha Lance Bottoms, Atlanta mayorSource:Getty 3 of 59
4. Herman Cain, former presidential candidateSource:Getty 4 of 59
5. Nick Cannon, entertainerSource:Getty 5 of 59
6. Ben Carson, former HUD SecretarySource:Getty 6 of 59
7. Dave Chappelle, comedianSource:Getty 7 of 59
8. Rep. Bonnie Watson ColemanSource:Getty 8 of 59
9. Manu Dibango, musicianSource:Getty 9 of 59
10. Dennis Dickson, NYPD employee10 of 59
11. Kevin Durant, NBA starSource:Getty 11 of 59
12. Larry Edgeworth12 of 59
13. Kenneth "Babyface" EdmondsSource:Getty 13 of 59
14. Idris and Sabrina Dhowre Elba14 of 59
15. Patrick Ewing, basketball legendSource:Getty 15 of 59
16. Ronald Fenty, Rihanna's dadSource:Getty 16 of 59
17. Vivica A. Fox, actressSource:Getty 17 of 59
18. Jimmy Glenn, legendary boxing trainerSource:Getty 18 of 59
19. Rudy Gobert19 of 59
20. Louis Gossett Jr., actor, philanthropistSource:Getty 20 of 59
21. Lee Green, former college hoops star21 of 59
22. Charles Gregory, Tyler Perry's makeup artrist22 of 59
23. Lewis Hamilton, Formula One driverSource:Getty 23 of 59
24. Samuel Hargress Jr., owner of legendary Harlem nightclub24 of 59
25. Conan Harris, Rep. Ayanna Pressley's husbandSource:Getty 25 of 59
26. Antoine Hodge, opera singerSource:GoFundMe 26 of 59
27. Mike Huckaby, techno music pioneer and DJ27 of 59
28. Callum Hudson-OdoiSource:Getty 28 of 59
29. DL Hughley, comedian29 of 59
30. Ahmed Ismail Hussein, Somali singer30 of 59
31. Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, former White House butler31 of 59
32. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, actor32 of 59
33. Brad "Scarface" JordanSource:Getty 33 of 59
34. DeAndre Jordan, NBA starSource:Getty 34 of 59
35. Tim Lester, NFL starSource:Getty 35 of 59
36. James Mahoney, pulmonologist36 of 59
37. Ellis Marsalis Jr., musicianSource:Getty 37 of 59
38. DeRay McKesson, activistSource:Getty 38 of 59
39. Von Miller, NFL starSource:Getty 39 of 59
40. Donovan Mitchell40 of 59
41. Wisconsin Rep. Rep. Gwen MooreSource:Getty 41 of 59
42. Lloyd Porter, small business owner in Brooklyn42 of 59
43. Charley Pride, country music legendSource:Getty 43 of 59
44. Biden Adviser, Rep. Cedric RichmondSource:Getty 44 of 59
45. Arnie Robinson Jr., Olympian45 of 59
46. Wallace RoneySource:Getty 46 of 59
47. Marcus Smart47 of 59
48. Shaka Smart, University Of Texas Men's Basketball CoachSource:Getty 48 of 59
49. Troy Sneed, gospel singerSource:Getty 49 of 59
50. Oliver "DJ Black N Mild" Stokes Jr.50 of 59
51. Michael Strahan, 'Good Morning America' host, former NFL starSource:Getty 51 of 59
52. Carole Sutton, actressSource:Getty 52 of 59
53. Jeffrey "DJ Jazzy Jeff" Townes53 of 59
54. Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers head coachSource:Getty 54 of 59
55. Karl-Anthony Towns, NBA starSource:Getty 55 of 59
56. Jo Thompson, singerSource:Getty 56 of 59
57. Karl-Anthony Towns' parents, Jacqueline Cruz and Karl-Anthony Towns Sr.57 of 59
58. Juan Williams, Fox News HostSource:Getty 58 of 59
59. Randall Woodfin, Mayor of Birmingham, AlabamaSource:Getty 59 of 59
Why Biden Needs A Black Secretary Of Health And Human Services was originally published on newsone.com