In the past two weeks a number of high-profile, tax-payer funded billboards have gone up throughout San Diego county making alarming (and unsubstantiated) claims that black babies are being harmed because of racism and discrimination from health care providers.
One billboard reads, “Black babies are 80% more likely to be premature due to discrimination.” Another one states, “Racism hurts your baby long before they are born”
The billboards and associated website aren’t paid for by a private political group with an advocacy agenda. The billboards include logos of three government programs sponsoring them and are being paid for by the county-funded Black Legacy Now program.
"For a public health agency to do this is quite offensive because not only does it create division in the community, racial division, but I would presume that this will discourage African-Americans from trusting their doctors, trusting the health care system, because they’re being told that health care providers in their area are all racists," Carl DeMaio stated. "How does that encourage people to use the health care system?"
Data obtained from the National Center for Health Statistics shows that Black babies were indeed more likely to be born prematurely between 2017 and 2019 at a rate of 14% nationally and 12.2% in California. No cause for the disparity is listed by the agency.
"It's not supported by the data. it is a narrative," DeMaio stated. "It is a false narrative, and it is a false narrative that is being disseminated with our tax dollars," he continued.
DeMaio says the true driver behind the health disparities decried on the billboards is not racism, but poverty and low income status. Government datasets and scholarly research overwhelmingly confirm this. In fact the American Academy of Family Physicians notes “Poverty and low-income status are associated with a variety of adverse health outcomes, including shorter life expectancy, higher rates of infant mortality, and higher death rates for the 14 leading causes of death.”
“These billboards should immediately be taken down and the staff that approved the billboards should be disciplined for an obscene lack of judgment in approving such a dangerous and divisive message,” DeMaio concluded.
See the billboards for yourself below.