The Conveniently Missing Racial Politics of EpiPen Access

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The availability of essential life-saving tools, like the EpiPen, never rise to being a crisis until the price hits white people’s wallets. Foreclosures and the lack of affordable housing drew Big Short condemnation when idyllic Caucasian suburbs went into meltdown. Drug wars go into cease-fire and even Republican presidential candidates, of all people, view addiction as a mental illness once it’s their kids strung out on opioids.

The price of milk, gas, rent and everything else in-between never really hits the conscience of white mainstream privilege until injustice finally translates into an inconvenience. It’s as if these disturbances, these almost-unfathomable wrinkles in routine, never existed until they wrought destruction on the otherwise uneventful lives of white PTA moms. Few understand, even when they’re aware, that less-fortunate populations have dealt with such nasty disruptions for years—and while expecting little in policy change or political intervention.


Outrage over the insanity of EpiPen price-gouging is, of course, welcome. And necessary. Unbearable, however, is the typical comedy of delayed racial reaction. Lack of access to an affordable EpiPen was never a new thing, especially when it’s been a quiet issue for underserved populations of color for some time. It just seems like a new thing when, for example, the daughter of the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), uses EpiPens for allergies, too. But few salaries (save those of the 1 percent) can reasonably sustain an eight-year 400 percent increase in the price of anti-allergy EpiPens, including the six-figure salaries of sitting U.S. senators. That critics of the increase in the price of EpiPens didn’t say anything back in 2009 when it was $100 seems a bit laughable and disturbing on some levels. Where was the talk show fury then?

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