chapter  6
Ethnic News Media and Marginalization: African-American Newspaper Coverage of the AIDS Crisis
Pages 26

The National Commission on Civil Disorders which was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1968 and later became known as the Kerner Commission ( 1968 ) found that the residents of the “racial ghetto” were significantly less healthy than other Americans and that they suffered from higher mortality rates, higher incidence of major syndromes, as well as lower availability and utilization of medical services. As a nation, we have made tremendous strides in terms of health care for all, yet 30 years after Kerner racial disparities continued to exist on a broad scale (Boger, 1995), and in matters pertaining to health, the playing field continues to remain unequal for African Americans. African Americans experienced a variety of ailments and structural difficulties ranging from high blood pressure, sickle-cell anemia, homelessness, persistent poverty, drugs and crime at higher instances than other groups (Cohen, 1999 ). On the whole, African Americans continued to suffer at disproportionately higher rates and instances from an array of chronic and terminal illnesses and diseases than whites, even when socioeconomic factors are considered (Sylvester, 1998 ). For example, the infant mortality rate dropped significantly over the years; however, black infants are twice as likely to die within the first year as white infants. In fact, Boger (1995) maintained that while life

expectancies overall have increased (including African Americans and whites), the average life expectancy for African Americans remained years shorter than that of whites.