HOT TAKE: 1619 Podcast, How The Bad Blood Started

What SOU Communication Professor Kristin Hocevar Is Hearing This Summer

For Southern Oregon University assistant professor Kristin Hocevar, Episode 4 of the 1619 podcast by the New York Times landed especially hard.

Hocevar studies and teaches Health Communication, and How The Bad Blood Started documents the impact that disparities in health insurance access can have for Americans who work, but lack access to private insurance. These impacts are especially notable when bias and discrimination play an additional role in restricting healthcare delivery.

“It’s almost as if we have different healthcare systems for different Americans,” Hocevar said. “The disparities in some areas are so stark. For example, a Black or American Indian/Alaska Native woman over 30 in the US is four to five times more likely than a white woman to die a pregnancy-related death.”

Marking the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved people in America from Africa, the NYT’s 1619 project proposes a fresh way of looking at the history of the United States. The reporting by project leader Nikole Hannah-Jones and her team reframes American history as an inescapable connection between U.S. politics and economics, and the exploitation and oppression of Black people in America.

According to the 1619 project, modern-day discrepancies in healthcare can be traced back to the earliest days of U.S. history, even after the 14th amendment supposedly guaranteed equal rights for all Americans.

“I’m sadly not surprised that the system created to provide government-funded healthcare for Black Americans after the Civil War was — to quote the podcast — ‘set up to fail’,” Hocevar said.

The podcast also touches on the history of exclusionary practices of the medical industry in the United States. The American Medical Association didn’t formally apologize for policies that excluded Black physicians until 2008, and the American Academy of Pediatrics didn’t formally apologize for its own legacy of racially biased practices until this summer.

Hocevar will incorporate these themes into courses this year, including COMM 346 — Health Communication and COMM 446 — Risk and Crisis Communication.

“These examples show how much mere recognition of racial and ethnic bias in healthcare is still an ongoing and very contemporary issue,” said Hocevar. “We will cover some of that in COMM346, and if you are interested in race and healthcare specifically, you should also check out classes taught by the excellent faculty in SOU’s Sociology & Anthropology, Economics, and Philosophy departments.”

While we are getting ready for a Fall term unlike any other, Communication and Digital Cinema faculty at Southern Oregon University are sharing weekly Hot Takes of things we are reading, watching and doing that get us excited to get back in the (virtual) classroom. Stay connected with whatever got you to this post, and we’ll look forward to bringing you more communications about Communication soon.

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Comm, Media & Cinema @ Southern Oregon University

Earn BA/BS Degrees and Certificates in Communication Studies, Social Media & Public Engagement, or Digital Cinema @SOUAshland. #ThatIsSOU