Did you know that within the United States an educated, middle class, and healthy black woman is more at risk from dying during childbirth than an undereducated, poorer, and unhealthy white woman? Are you aware that people within rural settings have a remarkably difficult time accessing any type of health care? Did you know that regardless of controlling for race and gender there are still wide gaps in health within our current system?
To summarize, health disparities are the inequalities (gaps) in health services, practices, diseases, and trends across a variety of population groups such as ethnic/racial, educational, economical, social, religious, and much more. Many of these determinants overlap with one another which compounds the ever-widening gaps.
Currently, there is a popular discourse of diversity and inclusion. What is diversity and inclusion? Diversity is representation of a variety of people groups, while inclusion is experiencing complete and equal immersion of these people groups. As a health educator, we are to include ourselves within these discussion types, especially when it comes to cultural competency. Cultural competency is the ability to understand the various cultures and settings people come from. This skill gives you the ability to see individuals as different and similar entities. As easy as it sounds, it is a very difficult skill to maintain. The reason being is that people are complicated, and we do not all fit in one box.
I am mentioning cultural competency, because of its importance in the ongoing discussion of diversity and inclusion and health disparities. More often than not people do not have this particular skill. Cultural competency is not a skill that can be developed by simply sitting in a workshop, seminar, or class. It is a skill that must be practiced and maintained indefinitely throughout your entire life. The reason being is that people are always changing and we change in different ways.
Developing this skill involves constant research and much contemplation. The way in which the world has evolved is extrapolating. There are many interesting histories and cultures. A value of learning this is that it allows for you to understand where people come from. As different as many people believe their history to be, there are striking similarities in each of them. In order for diversity and inclusion to be successfully implemented, we need to learn and understand people and the history of us.