Spirit Essay Assignment
Health 2383: Multicultural Health Issues
Ravyn Bright

One of America’s founding principles is that all men are created equal, however our society continuously contradicts one of our most important central values. To believe that all people are created equal means that despite where someone comes from, once they are in America they are to be treated with equality. The lack of equality has been one of our most profound issues for decades and still has yet to be resolved. America is known as the melting pot country, due to our society being made up of individuals from a variety of cultures, ethnic backgrounds, and other countries. Having such a diverse country makes us responsible for being knowledgeable about other cultures and accepting people who are different from us. However, not all Americans have grasped the concept of treating everyone equally, there is a constant uphill battle for people of color, different cultural backgrounds, and especially those who are considered immigrant or refugees to be treated equally to those who were born on American soil.
Furthermore, one of the most controversial issues within society is how is if we should be a home for immigrants and refugees. An abundant amount of Americans have decided that the answer is no. Although, they might not say it blatantly, they display their dislike for immigrants and refugees by mistreating them. In 2013 the Houston metropolitan area was home to 6.3 million people, of whom 1.4 million were foreign born, an increase of almost 60 percent from 201 (Capps, 2015). Having to start over in a new place is hard enough; on top of that they are faced with obstacles that typical Americans do not have to encounter. Typically immigrant do not speak the same language as native-born American’s, this causes a language barrier. From 2012 to 2018 roughly 50 percent of immigrants did not speak English (Capps, 2015). The language barrier has resulted in the mistreatment of immigrants, because the do not speak English they are treated unequally and like outcast. In the short story The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down; a family who was in vital need of medical attention for their daughter Lia who was diagnosed with epilepsy, was denied proper treatment for their daughter due to the language barrier between the doctor and the refugee family (Fadiman, 1997). Mistreating someone due to social differences is unjust and contradicts Americas founding principle of equality.
In addition, the health care system has a prominent exhibition of bias attitudes towards people of color. Unfortunately, people of color are often discriminated against and shown less respect. In the United States, people of color face disparities in access to health care, the quality of care received, and health outcomes. The attitudes and behaviors of health care providers have been identified as one of many factors that contribute to health disparities (Hall, 2015, 60). As an African American, I have witnessed first hand the lackluster attitude and bias negative attitude that some health care providers have when treating me. It is very easy to perceive the verbal and non-verbal body language given of by providers, it is often done is subconsciously which leads to them being in denial of their actions. Subtle biases may be expressed in several ways: approaching patients with a dominant and condescending tone that decreases the likelihood that patients will feel heard and valued by their providers (Hall, 2015,61). Having a negative implicit attitude toward people of color, are often noticed by the patient and may result in he/ or she neglecting to return for further visits, this may result in exacerbation of their health issues.

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Henceforth, we must become more knowledgeable about different cultures to eliminate the lack of cultural competence that can often lead to mistreatment of someone due to cultural differences. Within the medical field is where a wide range of people from different cultures and ethnic groups are seen. People of different backgrounds are often biased against, especially within the health care and medical field. Cultural competence has gained attention from health care policy-makers, providers, insurers, and educators as a strategy to improve quality and eliminate racial/ethnic disparities in health care (Betancourt, 2005, 499). Enhancing cultural competence in the health and medical is a keen start to promoting equality and obliterating biased attitudes within healthcare. Increasing cultural competence can have a positive outcome by allowing health providers to provide efficient despite cultural differences. Without enhancing knowledge of other cultures, providers run the risk of not being able to effectively communicate with their patients. This often due to lack of English proficiency, which can result in misdiagnosis, and cause, further complications between patient and the provider. In reference to, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Lia was initially misdiagnosed by doctors, causing her condition to worsen due to the lack of interpreter to properly relay important information between the parents and the doctor (Fadiman, 2005). To eliminate the barrier, it is important to improve the cultural competence within the health and medical field to provide adequate and non-biased assistant to patients.
Rather than promoting equality, a copious amount of our society has deiced to mistreat and discriminate against immigrant, refugees, people of color, and those from different cultures. This unjust treatment is largely showcases in the medical field as a result to bias negative attitudes, lack of cultural competence, and linguistic barriers. As a country we need to remind ourselves of our founding principles and strive to effectively execute each of them. We are the world and we must become one as a society.


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