Lovell's Food For Thought - Cultural Differences Need To Be Factored Into Scientific Health Discovery
Racial & Cultural Differences Matter
The more things change the more they remain the same. Who you are and the experiences you have determine the solutions you develop to address the problems you face." Give the lack of researchers of color, you should be able to see what the problem is. Although the numbers have increased, the percentage have remained the same. Therefore you have insight to both the problem and the solution to the problem. Unfortunately, we have continued to fail at solving this problem and therefore we continue to fail in making any significant reduction in health inequities.
A Second Appeal to Connect the Dots
If we are going to successfully address health inequities, we are going to need to truly climb out of our silos and connect to one another across a broad array. Although this easier said than done, we need to realize that “No one center or one institution or profession will solve the problems we face.” And any attempt to address this issue as a single problem of just one disease, without taking into account other factors, you have already failed to address the problem at the beginning and the outcome will be like placing a Band Aid on a heart attack, it may make you feel good, but what about the impact on society?
The need to create an oral history of leaders in the health disparities movement
The lost of our elders and their oral history and its impact on addressing health inequities. With the lost of two dear friends (Frank Talamantes & Gil Friedell); friends and colleagues on the battlefield in addressing health inequities, the question comes to mind, will we remember the knowledge they gained or will it be lost as we remain in our silos and continue to reinvent the wheel. Therefore, such will dooms us to continue to repeat the errors of the past and addressing inequities will remain an elusive target.
This Goes Beyond Race & Racism
To paraphrase what Benjamin Franklin once said: If we do not all hang together, we will all hang separately. The question that remains is: how do we get people and/or organizations out of their silos, especially in terms of health equity? We sure are not effectively addressing health inequities by remaining in our silos, especially scientific and advocacy silos.
Are we really addressing the health disparities/inequities gap in a serious and meaningful way?
Answer this question, given the number of centers focused on health disparities/inequities and the emphasis by major foundations on this topic, why are we not seeing a major reduction in the health disparities/inequities gap? Are we continuing to do just a modification of what we have always done, hoping that we are doing the right thing, when in reality we continue to get what we have always gotten, health disparities/inequities.
Do We Really Want to Address Either? My Perception is NO
Thirty years ago I wrote my first NIH on addressing breast cancer in African American Women. In that grant I included a section on the impact of racism on outcomes. The grant was not score. In fact, I was told that it really was not reviewed. Ten years later I wrote an article for "The Scientist" entitled "Racism Has An Impact On Research And Health Care Policy." Around the same time, serving on the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Integration Panel, I asked this question - how many Black women needed to die before we really did anything to really address inequities. Guess who not involved back to serve? Today, Racism is now a topic as it relates to health. Let me just say, it has been a topic for years. The question I continue to ask is whether anyone(s) in significant leadership position be held accountable. Only then will we truly see progress.
Do We Really Want to Address Either? My Perception is NO
Thirty years ago I wrote my first NIH grant on addressing breast cancer in African American Women. In that grant I included a section on the impact of racism on outcomes. The grant was not scored. In fact, I was told that it really was not reviewed. The basic statement was that everyone knew that Black women delayed in seeking care. Ten years later I wrote an article for "The Scientist" entitled "Racism Has An Impact On Research And Health Care Policy." Around the same time, serving on the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Integration Panel, I asked this question - how many Black women needed to die before we really do something about address this issue. Guess which member has never been invited back to serve? Today, Racism is now a topic, as it relates to health. However, let me just say that this is not new. it has been a topic for years. It is just coming up with a new set of people. So, the question I have continued ask is when will it not just be a topic of discussion and someone be held accountable for all these deaths. Only then will we truly see progress and not a topic of an article, a presentation or a panel discussion.
The Life of Donald J. Coffey
For a dishwater with dyslexia to being one the top science in Cancer Research, Don Coffey never forgot where he came from. This was one of his greatest achievements in terms of how he related to people of all ethnic and economic backgrounds.
The negative impact of creating more silos, more health inequities
As humans, we are always striving to receive credit for creating and/or doing something new. What I have learned, is that, for most things, they are not new, we are just improving on a concept. But when does improving and/or reinventing something become detrimental to the process? That is the question I am asking, especially in terms of health inequities, where the funds to address this issue is not limitless, but the knowledge brought together is.
Where are they now?
It is often said that the spirit of an individual lives as long as they live in the memories of those they have impacted. Howard Bern, is one whose spirit burns brightly in my soul. For he often said, "one's legacy to science is not the work that you do, but the people you leave behind." This is a phrase you have heard me say and written about numerous times, and will continue to hear me say and include in my writing so long as I am on this earth. It is almost my hope that this saying will be embedded in the souls of ones I have impacted so long as there is work to be done.