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One of the biggest issues the world faces today is the magnitude of health discrepancies endured by African Americans. Healthcare should not be dependent on one’s ethnicity or economic status. Additionally, many Americans strive to achieve the American Dream. [The American Dream is a symbol of accomplishment in the American culture.] Even though many Americans perceive the healthcare system to be equal to all ethnicities, African Americans have an immense disadvantage to equal healthcare, thus causing an inferior quality of life and an infringement on the ability to achieve the American Dream.

The healthcare system has systemic disadvantages derived from racism. Wealthier people can afford healthcare; as a result, they tend to live longer due to having such accessibility. Those who aren’t able to afford it have an overall inadequate standard of living. Studies have shown that African Americans below the poverty line tend to die approximately ten to fifteen years earlier than wealthier people. A study that was recorded focused on the premature death rates of Chicagoans, “From 2000 to 2011, Chicago’s premature mortality rate was 7,720 years of potential life lost per 100,000 residents. The Latinx rate was 4,513 lost and the White was 5,698. Black Chicagoans die prematurely up to 2.4 to 3 times the rate of Whites and Latinxs.” (Pg 142, A Tale of Three Cities). Premature death entails that death most likely could have been preventable. The reason that African Americans have such high rates compared to the other races is based on social and economic conditions, leading to deprivation and differences in healthcare. Another study that was recorded under the mortality rate for infants in 2014 showed similar data, “The infant mortality rate is 14 per 1,000 more than twice the national average. 43% of the people in North Lawndale live below the poverty line-double Chicago’s overall rate.” (Pg 172 The Case For Reparation). The African Americans’ death rate is substantially larger than any other ethnicity. This is directly due to the economic and social class of many Black Americans. Ultimately, if you are not able to afford healthcare, your death rates are, as a result, significantly higher since you can not afford professional help in times of dire need. Consequently, another leading factor in high mortality rates and unequal healthcare for African Americans is the lack of pharmacies or healthy grocery stores. To stay healthy and maintain a well-balanced diet, you need some source of protein, fruits, and vegetables daily. Many Chicagoan African Americans don’t even have a grocery store within a two-mile radius from them, this is called a food desert. Food deserts are referred to as areas that are very limited to affordable nutritious foods. Individuals who grow up in a food desert have a higher risk of getting diabetes since the only food source attainable to them is mainly highly processed. In A Tale of Three Cities, the report states, “Low-income black Chicagoans were most disadvantaged among their options for balanced food choices. More specifically, their findings show that poor black folks traveled farther to any type of grocery store compared to other Chicagoans and that food deserts cluster, in a strikingly obvious fashion, in exclusively black communities.” (Pg 146 A Tale of Three Cities). This was a study done by Mari Gallagher Research and Consulting Group a decade ago, though it is still very relevant today. To eat healthy, you need to live in an area with a supermarket nearby. To live near a supermarket, you need a steady job. All of these factors depend on one another, if one of the pieces of the puzzle is missing, the American Dream is almost completely, as a result, unattainable…

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The roots that cause the unequal medical opportunities are directly due to the integral racism subconsciously engraved within our society. Though legislation was passed guaranteeing equality to every man and woman no matter race, this concept, however, is difficult to implement. Children were taught from an early age by parents to look down upon African Americans. An individual’s family greatly impacts one’s point of view on such ideas as racism. This automatically props an unjust system. Our society has faced the challenge of creating ways to move past education, class, healthcare, and job roles and upholding these embedded issues. Ta-Nehisi Coates states, “But all our phrasing-race relations, racial chasm, racial justice, racial profiling, white privilege, even white supremacy-serves to obscure that racism is a visceral experience, that it dislodges brains, blocks airways, rips muscle, extracts organs, cracks bones, breaks teeth.” (Between the World and Me). Coates is conveying that racism is not subconscious or natural and that people make problems about race. This destroys any chance African Americans have to live equally. Furthermore, racial inequality is seen everywhere, especially in schools. Public schools that are funded by the government give less to the schools that are predominantly African-American. Since the children aren’t white, they care less about their education and well-being. Recently, schools in Chicago with a majority of African American students reported lead exposure in the water. Yet, schools with a majority white population have had water that was clean and purified. Lead exposure in children can lead to performing dramatically low, this racial inequality for students can destroy a brain that is still developing. Recent data has shown the poisonous lead conditions in schools in the Chicago area, “Eight predominantly black neighborhoods have percentages at two times the city average or greater: Fuller Park (2.8%), Austin (1.6%), Roseland (1.4%), and Auburn Gresham (1.4%). In contrast, predominantly white neighborhoods like North Center (0.1%) and Lincoln Park (0.1%) have lead exposure levels of near zero.” (Pg 152 A Tale of Three Cities). Since these schools are mainly African Americans, they are given less than what normal schools would be given. These kids are directly born into racial inequality. They grow up in a society where school, a place that is supposed to educate and prepare you for your plans, can be taken away because of such problems as lead poisoning. If students don’t have healthcare and are affected by this issue, they have no way of receiving affordable treatment. Ultimately, White Americans were raised with racism integrated into their upbringing. It is hard to change an individual’s viewpoint after being told the opposite all of their lives. Most children don’t even know the true definition of race; they just consume what they hear around them. Ta-Nehisi Coates expresses, “Americans believe in the reality of ‘race’ as a defined, indubitable feature of the natural world. The need to ascribe bone-deep features to people and then humiliate, reduce, and destroy them inevitably.” (Between the World and Me). Coate’s idea is that White people and African Americans are just used as labels in society. These labels, that are given, shape your ability to receive equal benefits from our government, such as healthcare. He describes the term race not as the reality of a race but as an ‘unreality’ created by racism, which leads to the reality of the healthcare system being racist due to society’s ‘unreality’.

Throughout Between the World and Me, A Tale of Three Cities, and A Case For Reparations, the discrepancies between the unequal healthcare for African Americans compared to other ethnicities highlight the discrimination within our society. These barriers to healthcare reduce an individual’s overarching knowledge of life. Therefore, the American Dream is harder to obtain for an African American.

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