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It’s About Race

The Other Side of the Tracks: A Socially Speaking commentary

March 22, 2010

By Perry Redd

Another historically wonderful event happened during my lifetime: Legislation was passed in the House of Representatives on Sunday that gives millions of presently uninsured Americans access to healthcare coverage. Amen…this act of necessity makes America among the best in the world, as healthcare providers go, for its citizens. But there are some in this country who are extremely pissed-off about it. No matter how much they deny, it’s about race.

Almost from the beginning of this debate on health insurance reform, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) and other anti-abortion Democrats insisted that reform specifically exclude coverage for abortions. Hello…Rep. Stupak, the House version of the bill already [G1] [G2] prohibits federal funding for abortions by way of the Hyde Amendment.  Rep. Stupak wanted to apply the exclusion to insurance premiums if the plan covers abortions.  Nonetheless, to appease anti-abortion Democrats, President Obama signed an executive order, which ensures that existing limits on federal funding of abortion remain in place.  

When Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) stood on the House floor to speak on this very thing, another congressman yelled out, “Babykiller.”  It wasn’t until the next day that Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) took ownership of this cowardly act. Cowardliness and decorum aside, the epithet sends a message: whoever disagrees with them becomes a target for degrading and insult—with impunity.  Question is: Who is “them”?

I was at the anti-war protest at Lafayette Park this weekend.  A huge immigration reform protest took place the next day.  We peaceful protesters couldn’t get near the White House or the Capitol.  Yet, Tea Party protestors, who oppose healthcare reform (something that will benefit all need) were close enough to our lawmakers on Capitol Hill to call them “nigger”, “faggot” and other pejoratives that are considered disrespectful, un-Christian, and unacceptable in political discourse. Their taunts were aimed at black members and gay ones.  People who they believe don’t look like “them.” Are such acts indicative of political evolution?  Maybe in 1830, but it’s 2010…

Regardless of the hate and despite “their” best efforts, H.R. 3590 passed, 219-212.  The bill constitutes the biggest expansion of federal healthcare guarantees in over four decades; the Senate already approved the bill last December. President Obama will sign the sweeping healthcare reform legislation into law at the White House on Tuesday, March 30, 2010. He will also hit the road to sell the measure to a still-skeptical public, giving a speech this Thursday in Iowa City, Iowa.

The overall $940 billion plan—which passed the House with no GOP support—is projected to extend insurance coverage to roughly 32 million uninsured Americans. Most Americans will now be required to have health insurance or pay a fine. Healthcare insurance companies will gain more customers.

Larger employers will be required to provide coverage or risk financial penalties. Lifetime coverage limits will be banned, and insurers will be barred from denying coverage based on gender or pre-existing conditions. It’s the latter requirements that appear to stir racist sentiment. Health disparities have shown Blacks to suffer disproportionately from chronic health conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease. Well-respected research documents[G3]  the role of socio-economic factors such as low-wage employment and lack of affordable housing in chronic disease. Unfortunately, “they” would rather you pay for your own healthcare coverage, not withstanding that retirement packages, Social Security benefits, and wages fail to keep pace with out-of-control health insurance premiums. Therefore, “group” politik is how we all gain access to healthcare coverage—like it or not.

The disrespectful taunts were aimed at black members and gay ones. Taunting legislators is not a healthy display of democratic activism.  These unacceptable acts are not about what’s best for the country. They are not about free market capitalism either, and they are not about abortion.  The young teen in a Turnersville, New Jersey Wal-Mart made it plain when he announced “All blacks need to leave the store.” He emulated what he had been taught, as racist as it is. Fun or funny, it’s about race.




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