Part 2: Dr. William Carter Jenkins Opening Session APHA

Uploaded by aphadc on 09.11.2010

Jenkins: Okay, on health disparities. This is what we think is going on with you guys’
health disparities – more than 30 percent SES, a little less than 30 percent racism
and so on, 10 percent of health disparities are probably due to medical care and genetics.
So why is all the funds going to medical care and genetics? Because small p politics affect
decisions; because laboratorians decide to fund, they fund labs; if geneticists seek
to fund, they fund genetics; and if clinicians determine the fund, they fund medical care.
Just in case you don’t get this, look at the heads of the agencies that we are talking
about in the foundations. We mean no disrespect here. But people tend to fund the things that
they’re comfortable with. In order to solve health disparities, you have to fund the things
you’re not comfortable with. Little/big p politics – Abraham Lincoln
said, “You can't fool all of the people all the time.” Then came the Reagan corollary.
You can fool most of the people most of the time. In politics, that might be all you need
to do. Death panels, birthers, HIV conspiracies – you can fool most of the people most of
the time if you’re very good. We’ve seen it. The struggle for social justice has been
long. It’s has been throughout the history of our nation. It’s been a continuing struggle
between those who came for peace and justice in this country and those who came to exploit
the land and the people. That struggle continues today. So today, instead of confederates,
they’re social conservatives. And those who came for peace and justice are now called
liberals. But the struggle continues. I want to talk a little bit about social justice.
One of the things ML – Dr. King – used to talk about at Morehouse was that social
justice that we arch toward social justice. That is because in the end truth will out.
People can say pro-life, but then support war and executions? Or people can say that
they’re patriots and they hate Americans and hate our president? Conservatives did
not win in the last election. We didn’t vote in the last election. It was not their
win. It was our loss. As we deal with this no post-reconstruction period in America,
it will be up to use to make the difference. Now the first time I came to APHA was in 1969.
I came and sat down in the audience. And as soon as I sat down, all the black people got
up and walked out. I said, “What kind of organization is this?” At the end of that
day, I was able to meet Dr. Canally, who then introduced me – the first black president
of APHA – introduced me to Dr. Poindexter, who was the sort of grandfather blacks in
public health; and then Al Hanes, the real author of the Heckler Report. And out of those
conversations came sort of a goal or phrase that we talked about that what we would try
to do was change the face of public health. That’s what we’ve been doing – not completely,
but to some extent. Social justice supports the development of
more minorities in public health. And what we’ve been doing – we have started the
first MPH program at an HBCU in Atlanta. There are now nine MPH at HBCUs in this country.
We started a public health sciences institute, which trains African-American students in
biostatistics and epidemiology. We forgive them if they go into health education and
health administration. We still love them. We’ve also started a society for analysis
of African American public health issues that met before this meeting, and we work with
the Black Caucus. But what is troublesome is that these efforts
lack the support they deserve because as difficult as it may be to work with an HBCU rather than
at Harvard, the fact of the matter is that’s where the action is. These programs focus
on mentoring rather than role-modeling. Role model is a great ego trip for people who think
they’re important, but it doesn't do a lot. It focuses on experience, on work rather than
exposure. It focuses on long-term goals rather than short-term objectives. It focuses on
things that make a difference – that it’s not how you look. It’s how you feel that’s
really important. Lastly, what I want to talk about is what
I hope young people will be thinking about. Many of our young people are being developed
into corporate leaders. Corporate leaders are people who believe that people who should
serve the corporation, and the corporation should serve them. Servant leaders, on the
other hand, are leaders who serve the corporation and demand that the corporation that serves
the people. There are people who would like to think that the Tuskegee study can't happen
again. Well, if they mean that it’s not going to be 1932 again, they’re right. But
if they mean there aren’t researchers who care more about bugs and papers than people,
I don’t think so. If they think that institutions don’t care about their own ego and about
funds, I don’t think so. It’s still an issue.
I want to tell you another little story about a student at Morehouse named Tweed. Tweed
was a good dresser, and Tweed was going to be a Baptist preacher like his father. Tweed
got his doctorate and went to a small church, got a knock on the door one evening and Rev.
Nicks asked him to have a meeting at his church. He said, “If you want to use the building,
fine.” He goes to the meeting, they start laying out what the issue is and says that
because it’s at his church, he should chair it. The organization turned out to be the
Montgomery Improvement Association, and Tweed became Martin Luther King, Jr. He moved from
being a corporate leader to being a servant leader. That is the kind of story I hope people
will think about. Servant leaders come in all different kinds.
This is my favorite picture of servant leaders – and for reasons that some of you know.
What I want to ask you today is – if there are people in this room who are willing to
put people before papers, I ask you to stand now. And if there are people in this room
who put people before programs, I ask you to stand now.