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.
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
39 photos Launch gallery
1. Usain Bolt, Olympic gold medalist
1 of 39
3. Keisha Lance Bottoms, Atlanta mayor
3 of 39
4. Herman Cain, former presidential candidate
4 of 39
5. Ben Carson
5 of 39
6. Manu Dibango
6 of 39
8. Kevin Durant
8 of 39
9. Larry Edgeworth
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
9 of 39
10. Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds
10 of 39
11. Idris and Sabrina Dhowre Elba
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
11 of 39
12. Patrick Ewing, basketball legend
12 of 39
13. Ronald Fenty, Rihanna’s dad
13 of 39
14. Vivica A. Fox, actress
14 of 39
15. Jimmy Glenn, legendary boxing trainer
15 of 39
17. Lee Green
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
17 of 39
18. Charles Gregory, Tyler Perry’s makeup artrist
18 of 39
19. Samuel Hargress Jr., owner of legendary Harlem nightclub
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
19 of 39
20. Mike Huckaby, techno music pioneer and DJ
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
20 of 39
21. Callum Hudson-Odoi
21 of 39
23. Ahmed Ismail Hussein, Somali singer, 92
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
23 of 39
24. Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, former White House butler
Tonight on @fox5dc at 10p –
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
— ShawnYancy (@ShawnYancyTV) May 20, 2020
24 of 39
25. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
25 of 39
26. Brad “Scarface” Jordan
26 of 39
27. DeAndre Jordan, NBA star
27 of 39
29. Ellis Marsalis Jr.
29 of 39
30. DeRay McKesson
30 of 39
31. Von Miller
31 of 39
32. Donovan Mitchell
32 of 39
33. Lloyd Porter, small business owner in Brooklyn
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
33 of 39
34. Wallace Roney
34 of 39
35. Marcus Smart
35 of 39
36. Troy Sneed, gospel singer
36 of 39
37. Oliver “DJ Black N Mild” Stokes Jr.
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
37 of 39
38. Jeffrey “DJ Jazzy Jeff” Townes
38 of 39
Why Biden Needs A Black Secretary Of Health And Human Services
was originally published on