Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Says Bout with Prostate Cancer Revealed ‘Racial Inequality’ in Health Care

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Former NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar revealed that he suffered a bout with prostate cancer and noted that he saw “racial inequality” in the U.S. health care system during his treatment.

The 73-year-old political activist wrote about how lucky he was that his fame and money were factors in helping him get through bouts with prostate cancer, leukemia, and heart surgery, but many other black men are not as lucky.

In his WebMD editorial unsubtly entitled “Black Lives Matter,” the six-time NBA champ noted that his fame goaded his doctors to rise to the occasion.

“I’ve been fortunate because my celebrity has brought me enough financial security to receive excellent medical attention. No one wants an NBA legend dying on their watch,” he wrote.

“But while I’m grateful for my advantages, I’m acutely aware that many others in the Black community do not have the same options and that it is my responsibility to join with those fighting to change that. Because Black lives are at risk. Serious risk,” Abdul-Jabbar continued.

He accused the health care industry of refusing to “address the underlying rot of systemic racism.”

Abdul-Jabbar claims that inequality in health care is the same fight as the Black Lives Matter war against the police.

“The more insidious and damaging threat to the health, lives, and economic well-being of Black Americans is a health care system that ignores the fact that, though they are most in need of medical services, they actually receive the lowest level,” he wrote.

The former NBA player insisted that a list of disparities contribute to black men’s early deaths, including education, lower-paying jobs, fewer blacks with health insurance, incarceration, and a lack of access to healthy food. These conditions cause heart disease, obesity, and other ailments that kill black men earlier than others.

Abdul-Jabbar claimed that the higher death rate for black men during the coronavirus pandemic also proves disparities.

The activist basketball player added that the Black Lives Matter activism is part of the solution.

“More Black teachers, jurors, and doctors — —that’s our daily maintenance,” he wrote. “Athletes kneeling during the national anthem, social media banning hate posts, politicians and celebrities condemning racist speech, police not profiling based on race, companies committing to financially supporting organizations fighting racism — that’s our daily maintenance.”

His bout with cancer spurred him to look for ways to improve health care for blacks, and he has teamed up with UCLA Health as an ambassador “to reach out to the Black community to make sure they were receiving the medical and health information that could save their lives, just as it had saved mine.”

“The future of equity for Black Americans starts with physical and mental health, and as long as they are at the end of the line for services, true equity can’t happen,” he concluded. “Black lives have to matter in every aspect of American society if they are to thrive.”

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