“ FOR US IT ’ S NOT JUST SAYING ‘ OH , WE SEE THIS PARTICULAR GROUP OF PEOPLE WITH PROPORTIONS OF THIS DISEASE OR EARLIER DEATH , BUT WE LOOK AT HOW RACISM , AND THE STRUCTURE OF RACISM IN PARTICULAR , HAS AN EFFECT ON THAT .” individuals that were mainly Black women and the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis .
In 1907 , Indiana was the first place in the world to pass a law mandating sterilization for certain individuals in state custody , as mental problems , criminality and poverty were considered to be hereditary . All sterilization laws in Indiana were repealed in the ’ 70s .
In 1964 , a Black woman in North Carolina was sterilized without her input because she was deemed “ feebleminded ” and thus unfit to be a parent .
The woman was also said to exhibit “ aggressive behavior and sexual promiscuity ,” referring back to negative descriptors more frequently denoted in Black people ’ s health records .
Because the country has a history of lying and deceiving people of color in the medical setting , it has formed a relationship of distrust between people of color and medical professionals .
“ Those things are still very fresh in our minds ,” Clark said .
In her work , Clark gets out in the community to understand what the needs are for minority populations and determines how they can be addressed .
During the pandemic , Clark worked to educate the community on the importance of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine , through church and back to school events .
As of April of this year , the Kaiser Family Foundation , a nonprofit focused on national health issues , reported that 7 % of the Black population in Indiana had received the vaccine .
Clark has been working in the field for over two decades , and she said she has seen a lot more people coming to the organization seeking assistance for energy and water bills and rent , as well as an increase in issues with substance abuse .
“ Affordable housing keeps coming back to the top of that list . If I ’ m stressed out where I ’ m gonna live or if I can ’ t afford rent , and I know that I ’ m behind on my rent . Stress causes a lot of illness ,” she said .
Stress plays a large part in people of color facing certain illnesses at a higher rate than white people .
“ Stress elicits cortisol in the body ... When we talk about discrimination and stress , and that stress gets trapped inside the body and turns into trauma . We know that that excess cortisol over time leads to hypervigilance and hypertension , diabetes , inability to concentrate ,” Aleman said .
Looking at the bigger picture , Aleman said it is important to address both the issue at hand , helping the patient manage their illnesses , and the larger issue of structural racism leading to the issues in the first place .
Aleman also discussed the importance of creating trust within the community , so people know they can seek help there .
“ It ’ s more than just showing up somewhere and saying ‘ Hey we ’ re here ,’” he said .
A big effort that will soon be in place at LifeSpring is racial trauma therapy , a modality developed by Spalding University professor Steven D . Kniffley Jr .
Aleman said the modality looks at how the impacts of racism can be addressed on an individual and larger scale .
The modality has a specific piece for white therapists , Aleman said , allowing them to aid people of color in the healing process .
26 2022 Diversity Magazine