HBCUs Are The 21st Century Answer To Health Disparities

I’m rather passionate about this topic and won’t say “they” when referring to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). I will say “we!” Before I go on, Can I keep it real?

Our institutions and alumni have the tools to contextualize the numbers to a narrative of defeating structural racism. Many of the Black nurses, doctors and pharmacists come from HBCUs. The cultural pride and institutional excellence we take from our schools guide how we treat our patients. HBCUs train burgeoning researchers how to think critically and execute flawlessly in a world that is satisfied with mediocre. Who is asking those “research” questions that characterize the non-adherent Black patient? Who generalizes these massive disparities to genetic predisposition when they don’t even account for anything genetic in their methodology? Out of touch researchers—that’s who!

A quick glance at health and healthcare disparities research headlines suggests that we continue to publish work that highlights disparities between Black and White patients with little evidence that addresses the solutions to structural inequities. At the macro level, HBCUs produce the most Black researchers and medical practitioners, but are disproportionately left out of the federal funding cycles. At the researcher level, as of 2009, Black people were lead investigators on 1.2% of the National Institutes of Health federally funded grants. This fiscal lockout mutes the voices of the people who are likely most closely affected by the health and healthcare disparities. The continued fight to get our research and institutions funded at an equitable rate allows a whitewashed perspective on the lazy Black patient.

People get so caught up in the historical conversations about Black colleges that we forget that Meharry Medical College and Howard University are STILL the number one producers of Black physicians. Did I mention Florida A&M University’s pharmacy program cranking out the largest number of Black pharmacists EVERY year? Winston-Salem State University is North Carolina’s third largest supplier of nurses. I love our history but we have….