NAACP’s Shavon Arline-Bradley on Black Health
1 year ago
"It was a no-brainer for me to be involved in a 100-year-old organization that had never lost its brand name."
Then, I worked for the state department of health for Virginia, which was a rude awakening for me to really understand bureaucracy and how government health has so many different layers that affect the population’s health every day. I left there and went to work for the Black Women’s Health Imperative, both on the local level in New Orleans, which is also where I got started with my national organization and program planning experiences. The Imperative is the only organization that works on Black women and girls’ health solely; I was there for almost 2 years. I spent a short time at the National Recreation and Park Association, which taught me a lot more about policy-level work and how congressional leadership and people power can be a part of a solution. Then I came to NAACP, and the rest is history.
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Loop 21: What are the top 3 health issues facing the Black community today?
Arline-Bradley: Obesity is number one. We’re in a situation where our country’s GDP is centered around healthcare costs, and a large percentage of those costs are connected to co-morbidities associated with obesity. And if you look at diabetes, cancers, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, almost always connected with someone’s weight. And African Americans are unfortunately suffering at a disparate rate.
I have to say HIV and AIDS. You’re looking at a generation of people who grew up not knowing anything but HIV/AIDS being a part of our society. I’m in my 30s, so I remember when HIV came around in the early 80s, and literally seeing generations suffering from this preventable disease. The NAACP looks at HIV as a social justice issue, which is really important. We’re not just saying that we’re seeing people die, but we’re saying, 'Listen, African Americans are not a more promiscuous people, we’re not getting HIV because we have more sex — we’re getting it because we live in concentrated areas of persons who have HIV, and we have issues around access to care, poverty, and limited access to screenings.'