Hotep's Story: Exploring the Wounds of Health Vulnerability in the US
Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 2002; 23(6): 471-497
A wide variety of forms of domination has resulted in a highly heterogeneous health risk category, "the vulnerable." The study of health inequities sheds light on forces that generate, sustain, and alter vulnerabilities to illness, injury, suffering and death. This paper analyzes the case of a high-risk teen from a Boston ghetto that illuminates intersections between "race" and class in the construction of vulnerability in the US. Exploration of his "wounds" helps specify how large-scale social and cultural forces become embodied as individual experience of disparate health risk. The case demonstrates that health inequities would not occur if resources--employment, income, wealth, education, housing, profiling in the legal system, and health care--were more justly managed in keeping with standards outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Professional responses to the "wounds of vulnerability" may reveal important aspects of who we are and what our work as scholars, practitioners, and advocates must become.
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