Wisconsin in Black & White

Reggie Jackson on life expectancy among Black Wisconsinites

Nurturing Diversity Partners lead trainer Reggie Jackson considers levels of health care experiences among Wisconsin's Black residents and the state's persistent racial disparities in life expectancy.

By Nathan Denzin | Here & Now

November 9, 2023

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Reggie Jackson:
Because a lot of doctors assume that, well, if I give this Black person a specific protocol to follow because of this condition they have, well they're not gonna follow it anyway, so I'm not gonna even put them into that space. Studies have shown that Blacks who need, you know, specialized treatment and so you have to get your doctor to say, okay, I'm gonna, you know, send you to this specialist to look at this issue that you're having, that's much less likely to happen if you're a Black person than if you're a white person, and even when you're put in those positions, you are much less likely to receive the same level of care, the same level of concern, and it's just a part of our lived experience. We live in an unhealthy society that stresses us out. We live in a society that even when we go to medical practitioners and even mental health practitioners to get the help that we need, we don't receive the same level of care, so we're receiving inferior healthcare and we're living in environments that are heavily polluted. And then when you think about poverty, what poverty does to people, it leads to more crime in those communities, right? So we're much more likely to die, Black men in particular, we're much more likely to be murdered at a young age. And so we are not gonna live to be 70, whatever, right? Because there's a good chance that depending on where you grow up, the environment that you're around, there's a good chance that you may end up, you know, being murdered before you reach that age. So the life expectancy has been a big difference. But this is the saddest part of it, and this is prior to COVID. We don't know what it's gonna look like when we look at COVID, but prior to COVID, there was a study done and it showed that around the country, the difference between how long Blacks and whites live, that gap was shrinking across the country. It was getting smaller, so we were seeing some improvement, right? Everywhere except one state. You wanna guess which state was not seeing improvement? Wisconsin, it was getting worse. The gap was growing wider in Wisconsin. We are the only state out of the 50 states where the gap was getting worse instead of getting better. And that says a lot about, you know, where we live in terms of how it impacts our health.

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