One of the things about writing about social and public health challenges that appear to affect different racial groups disproportionately is that often we get mired down in race. The social and environmental factors that may now affect one group, will ultimately affect all Americans. It does not matter whether we are talking about poverty, crime, police brutality, cancer or suicide. These things affect us all as Americans, and reducing the analysis to race diminishes what should be our concern about our fellow neighbors.
A couple of years ago, during the height of the great recession, a cover of the New Yorker magazine featured an image of a sinking passenger ship (the Titanic) in the background, while in the foreground a few fat cats in a lifeboat, were furiously rowing away in their tuxedos while laughing and smoking cigars. The implication was that even if America were to sink, the wealthy and privileged would somehow be able to get out alive. Nothing could be further from the case. Whether issues plague the rich or the poor, whites or minorities, they will all ultimately impact all of us. We should think about these trends with a degree of compassion because you never know when they will hit very close to home.