A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Legislative Hearing on Status of Black Men

Legislative Hearing on Status of Black Men

February 14, 2008

Yesterday, Sen. Dianne Wilkerson sponsored a hearing on legislation to create a permanent commission on the status of black men in Massachusetts. The legislation (Senate 2182) was heard by the Joint Committee on Children, Families and persons with Disabilities, with a packed hearing room of advocates, providers, and academics concerned with the issue. Testimony was delivered by Harvard Law Prof. Charles Ogletree and Schott Foundation Pres. John Jackson, who highlighted disparities in education by race and gender that lead to higher rates of incarceration and violence among young black men. They both called for greater investments into equity-promoting education programs to narrow the gap. Harvard Prof. Brian Gibbs testified on glaring health disparities faced by black men and the need for greater attention to the health needs of this population. Other experts and citizens testified on black male disparities in health care, criminal justice, employment, and housing. They called on the legislature to create the proposed commission as a first step to major policy changes to improve the lives of black men and the Commonwealth. These equity issues mirror the broader issue of racial and ethnic health disparities. Congrats to Sen. Wilkerson and other legislators for maintaining a commitment to assuring equity and justice for all Massachusetts residents. Camille Watson