Black With Asthma


by Dominique Browning

You know how sometimes a talking head can make you so agitated that you want to yell at the screen? I felt that way listening to the recent testimony of Harry C. Alford, the President and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, during a Senate committee hearing.

“Stop playing politics with our children!”

Mr. Alford was testifying on the new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards; he is against them. His position is that ending mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants will harm black businesses. Alford declared:

“Poverty brings far worse health than mercury coming out of a coal plant or utility plant. Violence, crime. These kids that I see are far more likely to get a bullet in the head than asthma. [emphasis spoken] And that’s the reality of it and that’s because of the economic consequences of bad policy and practices—much of which comes from Capitol Hill.”

The fact is, African American children are FAR more likely to develop asthma than get a bullet to their heads. And African American parents — all parents — should be furious about it.

In 2006, asthma prevalence was 20.1% higher in African Americans than in whites. A recent study revealed that one-quarter of the children in New York City’s Harlem have asthma. The following national statistics are even more jarring:

African American children have a:

• 260% higher emergency room visit rate.

• 250% higher hospitalization rate.

• 500% higher death rate from asthma, as compared with White children.

African Americans are often at a disadvantage because 68% of African-Americans (compared to 56% of Whites) live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant — the distance within which the maximum ill effects of the emissions from smokestacks occur.

So in fact, reducing air pollution — and the outpouring of mercury, a potent neurotoxin that disproportionately harms the developing brains, hearts and lungs of fetuses, babies, and toddlers — is a social justice issue of profound significance. It would be better for all businesses, African American and all others, not to have to carry the burden of high health care costs, to say nothing of the heartbreak of suffering.

Read more about asthma, air pollution and the African American community.

Please take action with Moms Clean Air Force.


Related Stories:

Spring Fever Comes To The Great Lakes

Mom Finds Way to Help Her Child’s Asthma And Others

Living Near Cement Plant Is…A Living


Photo credit: moms clean air force


Samantha Richardson

What a disgusting and racist man. Only in America would someone say such racist things, willingly wish to put the health of a nation at risk, and still be in a job. What a joke.

Will Rogers
Will Rogers5 years ago

There is something missing here, I don't understand why black kids in america have more asthma than whites? Their kids always look stronger and healthier, they run faster and are generally fitter as are the adults, is it allergies? Are they forced to live in the most unhealthy polluted places? Or is this just propaganda to put down blacks as white America tends to do? 
And is it only the blacks in america? and why? English blacks don't suffer more with asthma than their white counterparts, and as for Jamaica! They're not all asthmatic! It seems to be only the American blacks then. But Why?
This year when the Olympics come to london, I expect the US Team to be all white because the blacks are ill with Asthma.

Ruby W.
Ruby W5 years ago

This is mean, stupid, and designed to focus blame back onto the victims. Pollution causes asthma to spike, no doubt about it, but violence can always be attributed to "culture" - in other words, don't be black if you don't like it.

Samantha Christopher
Samantha C5 years ago

No person should have to fight to breathe, especially a child. Asthma, any breathing disorder, for a child is devasting. I was diagnosed at 7 with accute asthma and spent most of my childhood going to emergency in the middle of the night because I couldn't breathe. Don't care what colour you are, no one should have to fight to breath.

John Mansky
John Mansky5 years ago

Thank you for the article...

bob m.
bob m5 years ago

Whatever!... give ALL asthmatic kids the help they need... I suffered from it throughout my childhood and up till about mid thirties.... thank God it receded.....
It is an absolute disparager of quality of life and impedes learning potential. You can't think; when you can't breathe..... added on to all the other "issues' that can cloud a childs life.
I remember walking in the cool night air just to breathe better ... in a semi panic.
I remember hay fever, allergies, running nose during exams, emphazema... oh ya...add that to a tension at home constantly... well ; not to sit here rummaging in past things but I truely
feel the tears rising up at the thought of ANY child without the remedial support necessary to alleviate at least ... this plague of childhood times .

Rana Newbury
Rana Newbury5 years ago

Wow, those numbers are staggering!

Dave C.
David C5 years ago

Great Post, thanks.

J C Bro
J C Brou5 years ago

Thank you for alerting people about his malady which is plaguing my people.

Jason S.
Jason S5 years ago

Good Posting, Thanks