Black Men and Healthcare–A Broken Relationship

Every year my mother texts or calls to check whether I’ve completed my annual physical, dental cleaning and vision test. Going to the dentist and optometrist has always been easy to complete, but going to the doctor for routine check-ups and blood tests haven’t been. In my case, accessibility to a network of providers is easy because of the health benefits associated with past and current jobs.

With access to such good healthcare, why am I so reticent to regularly go to the doctor?
Why are black men so hesitant to regularly visit their doctors?

I’ve asked myself this question a multitude of times. The answer is layered and nuanced.

There’s a naivety that comes with being young, a black man or both. It’s almost a feeling of invincibility – a false sense of healthiness that’s based off an unprofessional self-assessment consisting of an “I’m okay. I feel good.” If there’s no sharp pain or glaring signs of a problem then there’s no need to go to the doctor. “I know my body” is often our sole justification. Obviously, this is a dangerous way of thinking that positions us to be reactive rather than proactive.

With youth and/or being a black man also comes