Posted on January 3, 2024

MSNBC Guest Says Individuals Only ‘About 20%’ Responsible for Their Own Health, ‘Structural Racism’ the ‘Most Significant’ Factor

Caleb Howe, Mediaite, December 30, 2023

A person is only about 20% responsible for their own relative healthiness, MSNBC guest Dr. Uché Blackstock told host Charles Coleman Jr. on Saturday’s Velshi. The rest of what affects an individual’s health is decided by systemic factors such as the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

Dr. Blackstock joined Dr. L. Ebony Boulware on for a discussion Saturday on Boulware’s recently published study on the “strong link between racism and chronic poor health conditions for Black and Brown communities in America.”

“This study, it defines structural racism as the means by which societies perpetuate discrimination through interconnected systems,” said Coleman, who was filling in for show host Ali Velshi. He asked Blackstock, author of the book “Legacy: A Black Physician Reckons with Racism in Medicine”, to explain how structural racism affects health outcomes.

“I think so often we think about health as individual choices that patients that patients make excuse me, that patients make. And instead, we really need to understand how practices and policies, you know, the legacy of slavery, the legacy of Jim Crow, current-day systemic racism impacts the health of our communities,” said Blackstock.

“Individuals are only responsible for about 20% of what makes them healthy,” she said. “The other 80% are these systemic factors that Dr. Boulware and her colleagues studied in this very, very important research.”

She added that such factors have the “highest and most significant impact” on health vs. individual choices or particular instances of medical prescription or care.

Blackstock said that for these reasons it’s the “obligation” of for policymakers, local and federal government, and the healthcare industry to work with “community organizations” to address community disparities and systemic racism that are the true cause of chronic bad health.