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."
And I think the last one is healthcare system reform. The Affordable Care Act might be one of the most progressive pieces of legislation that any administration could have brought forth, but it is in danger because of the implications. What do I mean by that? That means that brown and black people will benefit and be able to see changes in their healthcare if the system is created for them to be able to get affordable, high quality care, and that’s a big concern of ours in the association, and one special to my heart, because I understand this: Racism has reared its ugly head in the healthcare fight. As soon as I came on board, I was in the war from working on health reform, trying to figure out how in the world we could translate to people what this health reform really looks like for African Americans. I have to be honest with you, people didn’t really understand it, they thought the bill was too big. But what they missed was that there were so many benefits. There are so many African American young people who are on their parents’ coverage because of these laws. There are so many seniors who now have their doughnut hole closed, and getting prescriptions at 50% off.
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Loop 21: Why is NAACP uniquely qualified to tackle those issues?
Arline-Bradley: The biggest thing that I deal with when I travel across the country is folks don’t even know we do health. It’s amazing to me. They don’t know our history in the '30s, '40s, '50s, dealing with medical discrimination, passing the Medicare/Medicaid acts, and the Social Security act. We have been at the forefront of health work, and we have the right infrastructure to address policy. The NAACP is not a service organization, but we are an advocacy organization that makes sure that services are made available in an equitable way, and in a high quality way. So when you’re looking at education, you think about us, when you think about discrimination, you think about the NAACP. But the health disparity is one of the most preeminent civil rights issues of our time. And the NAACP has a soldier base of volunteers, hundreds of thousands across the country, and we have a name brand that people know and respect, and the NAACP has been around for 103 years. What we do best is convene and push policy and advocate. We mobilize better than anyone out there. I place us second to none because of the work of the units, the local chapters, the college chapters, the youth councils. So we have all age groups, all generations, and we are bridging gaps. We’re cool on Twitter and on Facebook, and we’re still in church programs, too, so we’re relevant to many generations, and I think that’s what makes us qualified to address healthcare.
Loop 21: Why is it key to cultivate our own leadership in the health sector?
Arline-Bradley: Cultivating our own leadership in health for me means two things: One, making a more diverse health force, and two, becoming our own advocates. In terms of a diverse workforce, we have to build the infrastructure of African-American females becoming a part of the health profession, becoming a culturally competent part of the solution. We want to make sure that we engage future doctors and nurses in the health fields so that they can have a better sense of how to provide care because of their personal experiences.