Race, Health Care, Pandemic: Hope in a Year of Challenges

With another pandemic-era Juneteenth this weekend, the holiday’s message – of freedom, perseverance and hope -- is even more poignant. It is also an opportunity to remember the people who are on the frontlines trying to enact change and hear their stories of how the past year has changed them and their view of the world.

Race, Health Care, Pandemic: Hope in a Year of Challenges

With another pandemic-era Juneteenth this weekend, the holiday’s message – of freedom, perseverance and hope -- is even more poignant. It is also an opportunity to remember the people who are on the frontlines trying to enact change and hear their stories of how the past year has changed them and their view of the world.

The Black community has suffered massive losses due to lack of access to health care. Coronavirus hospitalization rates among non-Hispanic Black people were about 4.7 times the rate of non-Hispanic white people. A study from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that despite communities of color being more affected by COVID-19, there was "a consistent pattern across states of Black and Hispanic people receiving smaller shares of vaccinations.”

The amount of loss to Black Americans has pushed Black health care workers to speak out against the disparities in the system. Many, contacted by WebMD, believe this past year has opened not only their eyes, but the eyes of the world as well.

Jenay Powell, MD, is executive director of the White Coats Black Doctors Foundation, which was founded by five Black medical students to “celebrate, unite, and uplift black medical students and physicians, and to support the development of future black physicians.”