Opinion | Growing Up Black

To the Editor:

Re “My Brother Died and Reminded Me of These Life Lessons” (column, nytimes.com, Oct. 14):

Like Charles M. Blow, I, too, am a Black Southerner and have relatives buried in racially segregated cemeteries. Not only were they segregated in death, but those whose families could afford it were born in racially segregated hospital wards.

As the children of sharecroppers, however, my siblings and I were all delivered by Black midwives. Given the American median age of about 37 years, this once-prevalent “cradle to grave” racism is unknown and alien to most white Americans, and to many Black Americans, too.

Some even advise us to forget that cycle of exclusion because “it’s all behind us now and doesn’t really matter since Barack Obama was twice elected president and Kamala Harris is the Democratic candidate for vice president of the United States.”

Many of us were baptized in the same Christian faith, read the same Bible and sang the same “Star-Spangled Banner” as whites but were excluded by law from their lives. Those experiences, although devalued by some, gave essence and direction to us and matter greatly, as do our lives and history.

David L. Evans
Cambridge, Mass.

To the Editor:

Machismo Derails Containment Efforts” (news article, Oct. 12) includes a reference to men who refuse to wear masks (or condoms!) as being “macho,” or as identifying “strongly with masculine traditional characteristics.” Let’s call it what it actually is: selfish.

It is high time to put away tired stereotypes and excuse such behavior. And Republicans who insist on following the president’s outdated lead will eventually pay the price; our country already has, in too many preventable deaths and cases of Covid-19.

My husband and two grown sons wear masks in public because they care about others and want to help save lives. What is more manly than that?

Lorna Cook
Holland, Mich.

Credit…Getty Images

To the Editor:

Re “Crushed Beneath a Prescribing Cascade,” by Jane E. Brody (Personal Health, Sept. 8):

I applaud Ms. Brody for drawing attention to the potential hazards of overprescribing, but more emphasis needs to be given to the equally worrisome problem of episodic, discontinuous care.

As a primary care physician, I am aware of my patients’ medical histories, medication lists and allergies. When I or my colleagues treat patients, we provide follow-up and a fast point of contact in case unexpected side effects occur.

Since we monitor patients over time, there is less temptation to offer quick fixes, and we have safety criteria alerts programmed into our electronic health records.

In contrast, at urgent or emergency care centers there is a single point of contact, and clinicians may feel that they have only one opportunity to fix the problem. That can lead to a quick draw of the prescription pad.

I am confident that high-quality, accessible primary care can avert many of the problems mentioned in Ms. Brody’s excellent article.

Jeffrey H. Millstein
Moorestown, N.J.
The writer is the associate medical director for patient experience at Penn Medicine Medical Group.

To the Editor:

Like David English (“The Joys of Walking,” letter, Oct. 13), I also walk during this pandemic from one to six miles a day, but as I live in Manhattan, I have a choice between the natural environment of the parks and the bustle of Broadway.

As I am a widow, it is Broadway that gives me the most enjoyment.

Shirley Smithberg
New York

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