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Black college students express concerns about healthcare, being heard in 2024 election

High costs of medicines, the upkeep of her insulin pump and maintaining a balanced, low-sugar diet are everyday worries of Ta’Nia Pierre, and as the 2024 president election approaches, she worries her concerns are something that won’t be heard by the candidates.

Pierre, who is African-American, has type one diabetes, a chronic condition, and feels like her condition is not taken seriously enough by medical professionals.

Like many Black voters, Pierre believes the needs of Black people are often unmet by both local and national government officials. According to the Pew Research Center, 40% of Black adults feel like they were ignored by their doctors and therefore had to speak up to get care.

“When issues are being discussed about health benefits, Black people are the last to be discussed,” Pierre said. “It seems as though no matter the political leader, we will always be put last.”

Access to affordable healthcare and being heard by healthcare professionals are major issues for many Black voters. According to a study by Harvard University, 81% of Black adults said that a candidate’s opinion on health care affects their vote and 75% believe that the government should be responsible for providing citizens with affordable health insurance coverage. As the 2024 presidential election nears, Black young adults across the nation may be  apprehensive about who will be running for office and how elected officials will affect medical disparities among the Black community.

According to data from the National Center of Biotechnology Information, Black women experience higher mortality than other U.S. women. They also are more likely to have a  shorter life expectancy and higher rates of maternal mortality. Black women are disproportionately affected  by chronic conditions, for example  anemia, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.

“I am conflicted with my decision to vote as a Black woman, because it seems like nothing serves us,” Pierre said. “The healthcare field has never been fair to me, or to other black women.”

Additionally, for young people like Pierre, there is a huge financial barrier in medicine. Without health insurance, medications can cost thousands of dollars, an expense many citizens can’t afford. 

“I think an ideal candidate should have these issues in mind,” said Bernice Mpoyo, a sophomore studying medical studies at Arizona State University. “Healthcare should be a right not a privilege. Every individual deserves to have access to prevention and treatment of diseases or disorders in order to maintain health.”

In spite of the disappointment Black voters have experienced from previous leaders, many young Black voters are still heading to the polls next fall, in hopes that their vote will help put leaders in office that will find solutions to the local and national issues that affect them.

“We need more civic engagement in the young community,” Ahlias Jones, a senior at ASU studying elementary education, said. “We have the power to shift the dynamic that currently exists, but we lack the structure to consistently do anything with that power.”

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