Student uses mom’s experience to call for health care reparations

Freshman Symone Whalin speaks at the third annual Black Excellence Exposition in Downing Student Union on Feb. 28. “My speech is important to me because I truly believe that it is time for America to recognize and heal the health disparities between black and whites,” Whalin said.

Ambriehl Crutchfield

Freshman Symone Whalin wrote her after-dinner speech for the Black Excellence Expo about a topic she is passionate about: black health care reparations.

Her passion stems from her mom’s fight against breast cancer she said. Whalin said she felt her mom didn’t receive the same treatment as her white counterparts. She said researching the topic for her speech was heartbreaking as well because of the disparities African Americans face.

“We are in a political climate and a social climate that we need to be more aware of issues that affect African-Americans,” Whalin said. “I think it’s important that white people understand this and know what we are going through.”

Whalin’s speech was part of the Black Excellence Exposition hosted by WKU’s Forensics Team. The event was designed to create awareness about social injustices African-Americans face daily.

Members of the debate team selected topics on current issues such as the imprisonment of African-Americans, physical acts of protests and black health care reparations.

Whalin’s speech was more than a commentary about black health care reparations. She called on the state government to file for section 1115 demonstration, which expands Medicaid to better cover low-income and vulnerable individuals and families. Whalin said this would expand coverage to more black families.

Whalin said when she has gone to the doctor with her white father, she felt like the doctor instantly trusted accounts of health issues instead of questioning her on matters she felt were irrelevant as had happened in past experiences.

Although Whalin is biracial, she describes herself as being cautious of who she is around. She said she is always aware of what she is doing in “white spaces.”

Senior Lyric Davis said although she hopes people were entertained throughout the event, she also hopes they left feeling more informed on matters that impact black culture.

“I think that in order to sympathize on what black people deal with you have to know. We have to keep telling them and showing them, and hopefully we can erase white fragility, and we can make a change,” Davis said.

News reporter Ambriehl Crutchfield can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].