"You can't convince people of something like discrimination unless you really have evidence behind it," [scientist Carol] Hogue says. "You can't just say this -- you have to prove it."I threw the magazine down on the floor and walked away for hours. But I did want to know what happened to Simone and her children, so I found my way back to story.
Somebody might be saying, "What's wrong with that sentence? Why is it dehumanizing?"
The first problem: "you can't convince people..."
What people? Do I need to be convinced? Does Simone? Does Linda Villarosa? Does the article's photographer, Latoya Ruby Frazier? No, we are all convinced. So who are those "people" who aren't convinced and are we not "people"?
The second problem: "you have to prove it..."
This is just patently a lie. People have been "proving" discrimination until the cows come home and it still prospers, indeed, has gotten worse. The best talk I ever heard on this problem was given at an AIDS convention by Don DesJarlais, who illustrated decisions made with data, decisions made without looking at existing data, and decisions made to prevent any data from being collected. Data is part of the system of discrimination, as much as it is the refutation of it.
But the article is also annoying because it explains the stress of Black life and then suggests that a widespread use of doulas could save the moms and babies. This is just wrong-headed. We should have advocates for women of all colors. But we also need to relieve the stress of Black life. And we need to factor into these explanations of excess mortality the fact -- established with lots of data -- that Black life has been made much more difficult over the past 50 years by such federal, state and local policies as urban renewal, deindustrialization, planned shrinkage, the abandonment of major epidemics, the creation of mass incarceration, and more. Otherwise we fall into victim-blaming, and that sets us back even further than we already.
All that said, Latoya Ruby Frazier: your photos are astounding. Real black people.
ps. People don't always believe that policy makers don't listen to "data." Scott Pruitt, head of the EPA, issued new rules on data "transparency," not meant to be transparent, but rather to eliminate much of the evidence of the harms of toxic chemicals to the human body.