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?
President-elect Biden is being urged to name a person of color as his HHS Sec., in order to address the disproportionate effects Covid-19 has had on minority communities. https://t.co/iZfzl93jTg
— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 19, 2020
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.
— Wayne B. Carlson aka (@straight_arrow) November 23, 2020
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 medalist
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2. Gil Bailey, radio pioneer2 of 58
3. Keisha Lance Bottoms, Atlanta mayorSource:Getty 3 of 58
4. Herman Cain, former presidential candidateSource:Getty 4 of 58
5. Nick Cannon, entertainerSource:Getty 5 of 58
6. Ben CarsonSource:Getty 6 of 58
7. Dave Chappelle, comedianSource:Getty 7 of 58
8. Rep. Bonnie Watson ColemanSource:Getty 8 of 58
9. Manu DibangoSource:Getty 9 of 58
10. Dennis Dickson10 of 58
11. Kevin DurantSource:Getty 11 of 58
12. Larry Edgeworth
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Prayers to the family of NBC’s Larry Edgeworth 💔🙏🏽 and my former colleagues at 30 Rock. He died after testing positive for #coronavirus. Larry would always offer to help me ...even after I moved to CBS. He just wanted to see another brother win. #IAmMyBrothersKeeper Rest 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/TyXbiHs30d— DeMarco Morgan (@DeMarcoReports) March 20, 2020
13. Kenneth "Babyface" EdmondsSource:Getty 13 of 58
14. Idris and Sabrina Dhowre Elba
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This morning I tested positive for Covid 19. I feel ok, I have no symptoms so far but have been isolated since I found out about my possible exposure to the virus. Stay home people and be pragmatic. I will keep you updated on how I’m doing 👊🏾👊🏾 No panic. pic.twitter.com/Lg7HVMZglZ— Idris Elba (@idriselba) March 16, 2020
15. Patrick Ewing, basketball legendSource:Getty 15 of 58
16. Ronald Fenty, Rihanna's dadSource:Getty 16 of 58
17. Vivica A. Fox, actressSource:Getty 17 of 58
18. Jimmy Glenn, legendary boxing trainerSource:Getty 18 of 58
19. Rudy Gobert
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20. Louis Gossett Jr., actor, philanthropistSource:Getty 20 of 58
21. Lee Green
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It is with much sadness to inform all in my SJU family that we lost Lee Green to Covid-19 today. A Parade All-American who played 3 years at #SJUBB Lee was our warrior on those teams. A true lock em up defender that relished shutting down the best opponents. RIP Lee🙏🏻 #gone2soon pic.twitter.com/X4TIPbVvoU— Ron Linfonte (@SJU5) March 24, 2020
22. Charles Gregory, Tyler Perry's makeup artrist
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23. Lewis Hamilton, Formula One driverSource:Getty 23 of 58
24. Samuel Hargress Jr., owner of legendary Harlem nightclub
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Thank You for your friendship Sam! 💔#RIP💔 Harlem's Paris Blues Jazz Club has been a celebrated local music joint since 1969, playing live jazz and blues nightly. It's owner and manager, Mr. Samuel Hargress Jr., has been in the club nearly every day for the past 51 years. 💫🔥💫 pic.twitter.com/oSM9Cbzzdb— B Michael (@bmichaelAmerica) April 15, 2020
25. Conan Harris, Rep. Ayanna Pressley's husbandSource:Getty 25 of 58
26. Antoine Hodge, opera singerSource:GoFundMe 26 of 58
27. Mike Huckaby, techno music pioneer and DJ
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R.I.P Mike Huckaby. You will forever continue to change so many peoples lives with your music, technique and mentoring. These clips of Huck are from ‘Detroit The Blueprint Of Techno’ 💔 pic.twitter.com/8t8c83Uy2K— Dark Entries Records (@darkentriesrecs) April 25, 2020
28. Callum Hudson-OdoiSource:Getty 28 of 58
29. DL Hughley, comedian29 of 58
30. Ahmed Ismail Hussein, Somali singer, 92
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BREAKING: One of Somalia’s greatest artists has died in London after contracting Corona Virus. Ahmed Ismail Hussein “Hudeydi” known as the “King of Oud” has been in hospital for four days. He was 92. pic.twitter.com/iCii8vYVVv— Harun Maruf (@HarunMaruf) April 8, 2020
31. Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, former White House butler
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Tonight on @fox5dc at 10p -— 𝙎𝙝𝙖𝙬𝙣 𝙔𝙖𝙣𝙘𝙮 (@ShawnYancyTV) May 20, 2020
He served at the pleasure of 11 U.S. Presidents... during his 55 years at the White House.
Last weekend, he passed from COVID-19.
My exclusive interview with the granddaughter of White House butler, Wilson Jerman is next! pic.twitter.com/SBiXbQLiud
32. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson
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33. Brad "Scarface" JordanSource:Getty 33 of 58
34. DeAndre Jordan, NBA starSource:Getty 34 of 58
35. Tim Lester, NFL starSource:Getty 35 of 58
36. James Mahoney, pulmonologist
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Dr. James Mahoney at University Hospital of Brooklyn pic.twitter.com/SXBxNlzApr— Lieutenant Kijé (@BrianLemaire2) May 19, 2020
37. Ellis Marsalis Jr.Source:Getty 37 of 58
38. DeRay McKessonSource:Getty 38 of 58
39. Von MillerSource:Getty 39 of 58
40. Donovan Mitchell
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41. Wisconsin Rep. Rep. Gwen MooreSource:Getty 41 of 58
42. Lloyd Porter, small business owner in Brooklyn
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Devastated to hear Lloyd Porter has pass away from covid19. Lloyd was a pillar in Brooklyn. His coffee shop Breadstuy is where I met some of my closest friends. He sometimes hired people with records that couldn't easily find work. He believed in community. Rest well Brother— Blitz Bazawule (@BlitzAmbassador) May 7, 2020
43. Charley Pride, country music legendSource:Getty 43 of 58
44. Biden Adviser, Rep. Cedric RichmondSource:Getty 44 of 58
45. Arnie Robinson Jr., Olympian
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Arnie Robinson Jr., who won the gold medal in the long jump at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, died on Dec. 2 at his home in San Diego. He was 72. https://t.co/lYnpSbWkzO— NYT Sports (@NYTSports) December 16, 2020
46. Wallace RoneySource:Getty 46 of 58
47. Marcus Smart47 of 58
48. Shaka Smart, University Of Texas Men's Basketball CoachSource:Getty 48 of 58
49. Troy Sneed, gospel singerSource:Getty 49 of 58
50. Oliver "DJ Black N Mild" Stokes Jr.
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New Orleans bounce DJ and radio personality Black N Mild has died after testing positive for coronavirus. For the past 25 years, he also deejayed at countless clubs, parties and other private events across the southeast. pic.twitter.com/2e6mnKhiXQ— Eric Alper 🎧 (@ThatEricAlper) March 21, 2020
51. Michael Strahan, 'Good Morning America' host, former NFL starSource:Getty 51 of 58
52. Carole Sutton, actressSource:Getty 52 of 58
53. Jeffrey "DJ Jazzy Jeff" Townes53 of 58
54. Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers head coachSource:Getty 54 of 58
55. Karl-Anthony Towns, NBA starSource:Getty 55 of 58
56. Karl-Anthony Towns' parents, Jacqueline Cruz and Karl-Anthony Towns Sr.56 of 58
57. Juan Williams, Fox News HostSource:Getty 57 of 58
58. Randall Woodfin, Mayor of Birmingham, AlabamaSource:Getty 58 of 58
Why Biden Needs A Black Secretary Of Health And Human Services was originally published on newsone.com