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Chronic Divisions

What can be done to improve health disparities between communities?

In Oregon sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancies both happen at higher rates in the African-American community than the white community. Black people are more likely to die from diabetes and to be diagnosed with AIDS. And there’s a greater chance they’ll have a baby die at birth.

These are all statistics that Dr. Alvin Poussaint explores in his search for answers for black Americans. Poussaint is best known for his ongoing partnership with comedian Bill Cosby. From his days consulting on the Cosby Show to the new book they wrote together — Come On, People: On the Path From Victims to Victors — Cosby and Poussaint say African-Americans need to to take responsibility for their health and their futures.

Critics think their views are too simplistic. They say that society is to blame, and there are limits on what African-Americans can do themselves.

Tomorrow we’ll speak with Poussaint about his views, and discuss how health disparities impact Hispanic, Asian, and Native American communities in Oregon as well.

What causes these differences in the health of our population? Is Poussaint correct — that we all need to take responsibility for ourselves? Or is society as a whole to blame for not providing accessible health care, living-wage jobs, and affordable housing?


Alvin Poussaint: a child psychiatrist and Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the author of Come on People: On the Path from Victims to Victors with comedian Bill Cosby

Jill Ginsberg: co-founder and medical director of North by Northeast Community Health Center in Portland

Tricia Tillman: Program Manager with the Health Equity Initiative of Multnomah County

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