The response to drug epidemics cuts along lines of race and class. In my recent piece with Toni Monkovic in the New York Times’ Upshot Dr. M. Norman Oliver, Virginia’s health commissioner, said, “At the beginning, the opioid epidemic was centered in rural Appalachia, and as long as it involved poor rural whites, it did
For centuries privileged classes have placed people into racial categories and acted upon them in ways that reflect and cement power. Racial discrimination has been woven into the fabric of many, if not all, U.S. institutions. The health system is not immune.
The risks to health faced by Americans long ago are different from those we face today. Some of the things that once killed many people (like poor sanitation) now kill many fewer. On the other hand, we now face new risks (like death from auto accidents) that didn’t exist a century ago.