We speak of off seasons mainly in sports. We look at who made the best trades (although the biggest often come near the in-season trade deadline), who had the best draft and who did the best in the free agent market. Today colleges are year-round operations but they still to a great degree take the summer off. With that background I’ll announce the winner and then spend the rest of the article justifying my decision. And the clear winner is Howard University.
Howard is a very highly regarded school located in Washington, D.C. It is generally considered the best of the HBCUs (a few of them may dispute that) and is nicknamed the Black Harvard. In reality Howard is among America’s elite colleges, period. I’m giving it the award based on acquiring two “players” and announcing a new program.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s (UNC) loss of Nikole Hannah-Jones in an “unforced error” ended up being Howard’s win when she “signed” with them and Ta-Nehisi Coates came along as what appeared to be a package deal. (There is no report of Coates ever offering his services to UNC.) That is some high caliber cerebral power as well as two names that can be used in recruiting and fundraising.
Recently it was announced that Howard was starting a program to examine the health disparity between Black and non-Black Americans. This is a big deal and the pandemic has brought this inequity into the spotlight.
I was shocked a few weeks ago when Chris Hayes covered a study outlining the disparity in detail. I, along with I’m sure many others, felt the disparity in outcomes was largely explainable by the access to health care. People with lower incomes and in poorer communities have less access to health care. That is true but it doesn’t explain the disparity in total. When you dug further into the numbers and adjusted for income, neighborhood and/or education the disparity was still there. In fact, poor whites experienced better health outcomes than relatively wealthy and more highly educated Blacks.
It has long been known that a prejudice existed in our health care system where men’s pain was taken more serious than women’s pain; and white women’s pain was taken much more seriously than Black women’s pain. If tennis star Serena Williams is to be believed this transcends fame and fortune.
I don’t have the answer to the cause of the disparity. I am willing to bet that there are multiple factors. They are certainly not clearly apparent. I am concerned with both racism and inequity. This is an issue that needs study and resolution. The first step in solving a problem is recognizing it exists. In this case the second step is to explore it trying to determine its causes (I’m certain they are multiple). Howard took care of the first two steps and should be commended for that!
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