T.I. sat down with Dr. Regina Benjamin on his “ExpediTIously” podcast in an interview that was published to YouTube on Wednesday, April 22.
Dr. Benjamin served as surgeon general during Barack Obama’s presidency. She was also a member of the Morehouse School of Medicine Board of Trustees, and she’s a graduate of Morehouse School of Medicine as well.
At the start of the discussion, T.I. brought up the disparity between the death rate of Black and Hispanic people compared with those of other communities. Dr. Benjamin said it’s because a lot of Black and Latino people have pre-existing medical conditions, which other experts have also talked about recently.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent data shows Black people account for 30 percent of people who have the virus among the infected whose ethnicity is known. African-Americans make up only 13 percent of the overall U.S. population.
“We in the African-American communities have certain illnesses that are much more prevalent. Things like high blood pressure, diabetes, strokes … and because of that that puts us at higher risk,” said Dr. Benjamin at around the 3:00 mark of the interview.
“You know, when this first started coming out they were talking about people who are vulnerable and the elderly … at risk, meaning the elderly and the people who had pre-existing illnesses, and most of us thought about cancer and HIV and things like that and older people,” the doctor continued.
But Dr. Benjamin said that some in the Black and Latino communities actually don’t know they have a particular medical condition, which only adds to the problem.
“What we weren’t thinking about was people with diabetes or people with high blood pressure and people who don’t even know they have diabetes and people who don’t even know they have high blood pressure,” she explained.
Dr. Benjamin also talked about how Black people could avoid having pre-existing health conditions, which she says has a lot to do with schooling.
“Health includes education,” she stated. “We have studies to show that just by getting a high school diploma, your death rate is 2 1/2 times less … Yet, we don’t push that. We need to make sure our kids get educated … Four more years of education takes 10 percent chance off your death rate if you have diabetes and hypertension … So getting an education matters.”
Many, including those from the entertainment world like T.I., said it was a horrible idea.
“Dear Georgia, IDGAFWKSYBSYBAITHMFH!” he wrote on Instagram Tuesday, April 21.