Health Justice CT

Health Justice CT Blog

How Do Systems in CT Need to Change to End Unacceptable Treatment and Outcome Health Disparities Among Black/African American Males?

How Do Systems in CT Need to Change to End Unacceptable Treatment and Outcome Health Disparities Among Black/African American Males?

Structural systems in Connecticut are not conducive to promote adult male wellness. There is a greater emphasis on, and more resources allocated to, the well being of adult females and children. Indeed, our American society is still heavily male dominant and this flaw that has constructed a system, an arrogant one undoubtedly, that negates the nurture necessary for every human life. In other words males are so well trained to act in manners that mask the request for assistance from others that the signs and symptoms of illnesses in the adult male are unrecognized. Added to this circumstance and situation is the construct of race and ethnicity. A look at the health status and treatment of black males in CT compared to their counterparts shows evidence of sustained larger gaps for most health outcomes. The root causes of these poor outcomes can be attributed to social determinants of health like race/ethnicity and education. I view race/ethnicity and education as the priority determinants impacting health outcomes of the black CT male. Existing systems must find a way to sincerely include the black male at the onset of decision-making processes and be reconstructed to develop trust and allocate resources necessary for black males to succeed.

Every person has a unique way of operating in CT, as do black males. However, the settings in which most black males operate are usually clustered into a narrow frame. Observation of black male behavior in CT shows that they are more likely to be imprisoned than have freedom to take leadership roles at home, the workplace, the community or the political arena. A closer examination of the workplace shows that compared to other males, the percentage of black males in all professions, especially those that are health related, is at a dismal low. A viable solution to narrow some of the aforementioned gaps may be to increase funding for early-life resources such as education in an attempt to reduce the dollars spent on later-life imprisonment.

Some will say black males in CT have chosen these poor outcomes – that they are lousy fathers, poor role models, too aggressive and simply unwilling to conform to the appropriate, established standards meant for a seamless human existence in a civil CT. I have worked with several adolescent black male students in CT. Many initially have vocalized the following: “You are one of them, you act white, you dress white and you speak white. I don’t trust you.” After a personalization process, a meaningful relationship developed and the issue of no trust slowly eroded between me and these adolescent black males. These adolescents feel that I understand and could operate in their system. But as much as I have an understanding of the mistrust of existing systems several young males has volunteered to share with me, I have an obligation to direct and nurture each toward success within the established system by conveying to each young man that he has a sense of belonging. The problem is that I am one person and the need for building excellent trustworthy relationships for young black males is essentially voided in too many constructs of life in CT. Development of a system where black males can routinely seek constructive and consistent resources for needs that if left unattended usually lead to compounded problems, will aid in building trust. Adult black males are absent from homes, schools, hospitals and boardrooms, and they are missing at the State Capital. The adult black male presence in the prison system is ubiquitous and as a young black male echoed to me recently, “It does not matter what I do, I am only acknowledged for the negative labels attributed to me [a black male]”.

The black adult male is seldom heard. Their challenges and pursuits of happiness are unseen. Adult black males are muted. They are devalued. Every other person in our State but the black male speaks for him and in so doing determines the role he plays in the system and ultimately the disparate health outcomes he’s acquired. The black male needs to speak up. Only he can do so. However, a process must be established so that the black male can willingly participate, be heard, and be given the opportunity to formulate a plan to address/solve some of the systemic issues that have hindered his belief in the present system.

This entry was posted in Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, Systems Changes and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.