Dr. Tito Izard on tracing racist roots of health disparities

"We didn't just come to this place where Black and brown people are disproportionately likely to live in resource deprived environments. It is racism."—Dr. Tiffany Green, Associate Professor, UW-Madison School of Medicine and PUblic Health Population Health Sciences and Obstetrics and Gynecology

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Dr. Tito Izard on tracing racist roots of health disparities

Clip: S1 Ep4 | 1m 47s

Milwaukee Health Services President and CEO Dr. Tito Izard considers how continuing health disparities and barriers to care in Black communities are an outcome of slavery and racial discrimination.

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Dr. Tito Izard:
All right, so if we look at health and health-related issues, and the reality is much of my conversation in education as I’m working with the community, working with patients and and students, it’s really to help them see beyond the issues of health. Health is, again, the narrow consequence of the condition or the environment that has been created. So if we’re specifically talking about health, every single health disparity for, and I’ll be very specific, for the Black population, in particular, American descendants of slavery population. So when you look at that ethnocultural lineage group, you can actually trace every single health disparity back to slavery and Jim Crow timeframes. So prior to 1965, all the conditions and the environment in which people lived in, there was a law that was passed that was progress, but there wasn’t a move towards restitution or repairing of the historical ills that plagued the community. And so what ended up happening is we moved forward, but we never resolved the issue. So when you mention health disparities such as infant mortality, we can trace the issues of infant mortality. We can just trace the issue of access to health care. We can trace cancer rates, asthma rates, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, all the components when we talk about health disparities and the various outcomes, all of it has a historical lineage so that we can say all health disparities are a direct consequence of being an American descendant of slavery.

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