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Health Disparities in Rochester Are the Focus for Stand Against Racism

The YWCA announced it’s month-long conversation series, Stand Against Racism, and an event on April 29, focusing on health disparities in Rochester.stand

The Stand, which is an annual event, is an opportunity for businesses and other organizations to host events where community members can gather and discuss race as it affects them.

Rochester is no exception to the national dialogue and critique of racial discrimination. A recent Unite Rochester poll found that two-thirds of Monroe County residents believe that racial discrimination is a local problem. And yet, when asked “If I am honest with myself, I am probably a little racist,” only 28% answered yes.

During the breakfast panel on April 29, the theme will revolve around the best ways to reduce racial and ethnic disparities, especially in Rochester.

Dr. Nancy Bennett, the director of the Center for Community Health at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said that many city residents are suffering health-wise.

“In some neighborhoods in Rochester, you may as well be living in a developing country, Bennett told the Democrat and Chronicle. “It’s horrifying and unethical, and one of the major causes is racism.”

Nationwide, the infant mortality rate for African-Americans is four times higher than that for white people, and rates of obesity and diabetes are similarly inflated based on race.

Not only that but, when medical conditions go untreated, they often cause other diseases to develop. Conditions like sleep apnea, which can be very expensive to treat, can cause other conditions like hypertension in nearly half of those infected. Health care disparities often mean the absence of treatment for not just one but many treatable conditions.

The month-long event is organized by YWCA of Rochester and Monroe County. YWCA president Jean Carroll says that it is not enough in and of itself just to change individual minds because there are structural factors at work as well.