In a recent interview on “The Daily Show,” TV host Jon Stewart asked Fox political commentator Bill O’Reilly: “Does white privilege exist?” O’Reilly denied the existence of white privilege but conceded that as a collective, blacks carry more of a burden than whites.
How do we begin to lift the burden?
Because we are a nation that values diversity, we must understand why disparities remain entrenched throughout many of our systems. Lest we forget, we are a nation not so far removed from slavery and yet to overcome the insult of the oppression or address the aftermath. Although the institutions of slavery and the Jim Crow era have ended, residual effects remain embedded within many of our social systems and institutions.
As a nation, we have failed to allow the wounds of our history to heal properly. But as with any wound, after the insult has been removed, a proliferation period is needed to rebuild what was broken and a maturation period is required to allow remodeling to take place. Although some of the burden resides on the individual, advocacy for social justice is also a necessary part of reducing health disparities.
As a society, we must come to realize that good health outcomes are not just privileges for certain segments of the population but are privileges to which every U.S. citizen should be entitled.