Former Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton closed out the conference, graciously laying out her vision for the institute and answering questions. She said that health disparities are a function of inequality, and that’s the point that sticks. Too often we look at the results of inequality without looking at the causes. Health disparities, the achievement gap, and unemployment differentials are all a function of inequality. Dealing with these gaps on a piecemeal basis doesn’t get us close to the solutions.
At the same time, how do we close the income and wealth gaps that are at the root of so many other gaps? In the current conservative environment, talk of income or wealth transfers is just that … talk. Conversations about reparations are even more meaningless in this environment, especially when the entire Congressional Black Caucus won’t sign the Conyers bill on simply studying the impact of slavery on contemporary American life.
The Rodham Institute has laudable goals, a wonderful founding director in Dr. Jehan El-Bayoumi (full disclosure—my doctor), and a great community focus. In working to eliminate health disparities, perhaps this group will get us a bit closer to closing economic disparities as well.
Julianne Malveaux is a D.C.-based economist and writer and president emerita of Bennett College for Women.
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