A group of the leading black healthcare organizations in the country is coming together to support the black community during this difficult time.
It’s well-known that African Americans have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Systemic racism, implicit bias among providers, lack of access to care, poor nutrition, distrust of the medical system, and misinformation have all had a role to play.
That’s why these groups are launching the “Love Letter to Black America” campaign. Authored by leaders from the community, it’s designed to create a discussion within the black community, including its response to COVID-19.
Reaching Out During These Unprecedented Times
The letter, which comes in the form of a YouTube video, was created by America’s Black Doctors and Nurses, in collaboration with the nation’s historically black medical schools, the National Medical Association, National Black Nurses Association, and the National Urban League.
The voices featured in the video talk about what it means to be a black doctor or nurse in the era of COVID-19. These providers have a larger calling that goes beyond showing up for work. They are here to protect and advocate for the health of black people everywhere.
The campaign will feature trustworthy information regarding health, nutrition, and COVID-19 created by and for black Americans.
These groups are also using the hashtag #Iloveus to spread the word on social media.
Providers are asking their colleagues, contacts, and professional networks to share this video as much as possible online. They are hoping these kinds of messages end up going viral to help stop the spread of misinformation online.
What Is the Black Coalition Against COVID-19?
The campaign is also supported by the Black Coalition Against COVID-19, a D.C. group that’s committed to helping black Americans get through the pandemic by encouraging them to get vaccinated and protect themselves from the spread of disease.
Dr. Reed Tuckson, one of the providers behind the Black Coalition Against COVID-19 and former health commissioner of D.C., says he’s been fighting distrust in the black community for decades, going back to when he oversaw the city’s response to the HIV pandemic during the 1980s.
“There we found that it was extremely difficult to break through the legacy of the Tuskegee syphilis experience and other significant insults that made it very difficult to be able to push our message through around the appropriate things to do. It is amazing to me now, that in 2020, so many years later, the same issues are rearing their head,” he said during an interview with NPR.
Tuckson says it’s important to have African Americans in leadership roles in science and medicine, so black Americans have someone they know they can trust.
He points to Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, an immunologist who’s been studying the efficacy of the vaccines who also happens to be black, as well as Dr. Gary H. Gibbons, M.D., the Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the National Institute of Health.
“So, we are trying to absolutely let our community understand that we are inside of the tent watching everything very carefully, protecting their interests and assuring them that only the best science is being applied to the decisions that will affect their life,” he added.
That’s why he argues campaigns like the “Love Letter to Black America” are so important, so black Americans can hear from people that look and sound like them.
He encourages other providers to see their patients as complete human beings instead of just a sickness or problem waiting to be solved or cured:
“I was well trained as a physician, and one of the things that was a hallmark of my training was to learn to listen to the patient and connect with the patient, to their history, their culture, their ideas, their values, their spirituality – all of the elements that make them a unique and vital human being. And so, it is imperative that we know this history, that all health professionals understand what your patient is bringing to the clinical arena. Health professionals have to understand how and why people make decisions if we’re going to help people to make the most appropriate decisions for them.”
Show your support for the “Love Letter to Black America” campaign by sharing it online.