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?
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.
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.
Prayers Up: Notable Black Folks Who Have Contracted COVID-19
1. Usain Bolt, Olympic gold medalist
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2. Gil Bailey, radio pioneer2 of 68
3. Keisha Lance Bottoms, Atlanta mayorSource:Getty 3 of 68
4. Herman Cain, former presidential candidateSource:Getty 4 of 68
5. Nick Cannon, entertainerSource:Getty 5 of 68
6. Ben Carson, former HUD SecretarySource:Getty 6 of 68
7. Cedric Ceballos, former NBA player
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On my 10th day in ICU, COVID-19 is officially kicking my but, I am asking ALL family, friends , prayer warriors healers for your prayers and well wish for my recovery.— Cedric Ceballos (@cedceballos) September 7, 2021
If I have done and anything to you in the past , allow me to publicly apologize.
My fight is not done…..
8. Dave Chappelle, comedianSource:Getty 8 of 68
9. Rep. Bonnie Watson ColemanSource:Getty 9 of 68
10. Jacob Desvarieux, guitaristSource:Getty 10 of 68
11. Manu Dibango, musicianSource:Getty 11 of 68
12. Dennis Dickson, NYPD employee12 of 68
13. Kevin Durant, NBA starSource:Getty 13 of 68
14. 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
15. Kenneth "Babyface" EdmondsSource:Getty 15 of 68
16. 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
17. Patrick Ewing, basketball legendSource:Getty 17 of 68
18. Ronald Fenty, Rihanna's dadSource:Getty 18 of 68
19. Vivica A. Fox, actressSource:Getty 19 of 68
20. Cori "Coco" Gauff, tennis starSource:Getty 20 of 68
21. Jimmy Glenn, legendary boxing trainerSource:Getty 21 of 68
22. Rudy Gobert
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23. Louis Gossett Jr., actor, philanthropistSource:Getty 23 of 68
24. Lee Green, former college hoops star
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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
25. Charles Gregory, Tyler Perry's makeup artrist
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26. Lewis Hamilton, Formula One driverSource:Getty 26 of 68
27. 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
28. Conan Harris, Rep. Ayanna Pressley's husbandSource:Getty 28 of 68
29. Antoine Hodge, opera singerSource:GoFundMe 29 of 68
30. 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
31. Callum Hudson-OdoiSource:Getty 31 of 68
32. DL Hughley, comedian32 of 68
33. Ahmed Ismail Hussein, Somali singer
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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
34. Jesse and Jacqueline JacksonSource:Getty 34 of 68
35. 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
36. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, actor
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37. Paul Johnson, house music DJSource:Getty 37 of 68
38. Jim Jones, rapperSource:Getty 38 of 68
39. Brad "Scarface" JordanSource:Getty 39 of 68
40. DeAndre Jordan, NBA starSource:Getty 40 of 68
41. Tim Lester, NFL starSource:Getty 41 of 68
42. 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
43. Ellis Marsalis Jr., musicianSource:Getty 43 of 68
44. DeRay McKesson, activistSource:Getty 44 of 68
45. Von Miller, NFL starSource:Getty 45 of 68
46. Nicki MinajSource:Getty 46 of 68
47. Donovan Mitchell47 of 68
48. Wisconsin Rep. Rep. Gwen MooreSource:Getty 48 of 68
49. 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
50. Charley Pride, country music legendSource:Getty 50 of 68
51. Biden Adviser, Rep. Cedric RichmondSource:Getty 51 of 68
52. 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
53. Wallace RoneySource:Getty 53 of 68
54. Marcus Smart54 of 68
55. Shaka Smart, University Of Texas Men's Basketball CoachSource:Getty 55 of 68
56. Troy Sneed, gospel singerSource:Getty 56 of 68
57. 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
58. Michael Strahan, 'Good Morning America' host, former NFL starSource:Getty 58 of 68
59. Carole Sutton, actressSource:Getty 59 of 68
60. Chucky Thompson, music producer, 53Source:Getty 60 of 68
61. Jeffrey "DJ Jazzy Jeff" Townes61 of 68
62. Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers head coachSource:Getty 62 of 68
63. Karl-Anthony Towns, NBA starSource:Getty 63 of 68
64. Jo Thompson, singerSource:Getty 64 of 68
65. Karl-Anthony Towns' parents, Jacqueline Cruz and Karl-Anthony Towns Sr.65 of 68
66. Juan Williams, Fox News HostSource:Getty 66 of 68
67. Randall Woodfin, Mayor of Birmingham, AlabamaSource:Getty 67 of 68
68. Zumbi, rapperSource:Getty 68 of 68
Why Biden Needs A Black Secretary Of Health And Human Services was originally published on newsone.com