Sunday, I was struck by the complementarity of messages in articles that appeared in the New York Times about South Africa and in a local Herald Sun opinion piece authored by Jonathan Kotch, MD, MPH, one of our faculty members. In South Africa and in North Carolina, there are huge gaps in social and health equality between blacks and whites. Social and health inequalities are global problems that must be corrected.
- “There is a huge gap between black and white. The rainbow nation is a dream, not a reality.” — Mamello Tlakeli, who has worked as a waitress in South Africa
- Black South Africans are still very far behind whites, and by some measures falling further back. In 2001, white-led households typically earned close to $17,000 more than their black counterparts, at current exchange rates.– in “Nation Remade by Mandela, Social Equality Remains Elusive”
- In 2012 an African American baby in North Carolina was 2.53 times more likely to die than a white baby. – in “Hard truths: Why more North Carolina children are dying”
Professor Kotch is right. North Carolina has a grand tradition of caring and commitment translated into social action. We should not go backward. Social and health inequalities undermine the fabric of our society. They threaten everyone, not only those who suffer immediately.
These are issues that deserve the attention of each of us, not just people in public health. Barbara