Kaepernick took the lead - Can he take on Lead (Poisoning)?

Nov 30th Update to this article: Wednesday night the NFL agreed to commit $89M over 7 years to social justice causes. This done as an attempt to end the protests started by @Kaepernick7  Child Lead Poisoning Prevention is a social justice issue it affects more people of color like Freddie Gray than others because they are more likely to live in older housing with deteriorated paint, lead contaminated water systems and soil.

Someone just said something about Colin Kaepernick’s future is not in football but in his charity work.

I agree that Mr. Kaepernick by taking a knee will now lead others to their greatest victories off the grid iron as he has become a key figure in the field of equality. Which is why I hope among the many things he will talk about as a champion for people of color is in regards to the topic of lead poisoning.

Because we have so many homes built prior to 1978 when lead was banned from paint, the bay area has a number of zip codes with child lead poisoning rates that are higher than Flint Michigan. It should not be a surprise that many of these zip codes are occupied predominantly by people of color. In fact paint companies knew for decades that lead in paint was causing children to grow up with mental and behavioral disabilities but initially ignored the problem as it was seen as something only impacting “colored” people.

Today there is more awareness that so long as you have old homes there will be the risk of lead poisonings but there is not enough action – our department responds when a doctor reports a child as being lead poisoned. Many children go untested so we do not know if they have an elevated blood lead level in order to respond. However once a child has been poisoned the damage is already done and we can only try to bring down the level to prevent further damage. The better strategy is to focus more on prevention - that is where there is a need for someone like Kaepernick.

As a spokesperson for public safety encompassing all people Mr. Kaepernick could point out the fact that lead poisoning is a neurotoxin that prevents Black Lives and others from reaching their full potential by killing children’s brain cells thereby preventing them from reaching their highest intelligence quotient (IQ).

For every group of brain cells killed/2-4 points of IQ loss the child will miss out on $955,000 in lifetime earning potential. Lead poisoning has been linked to school drop outs rates and behavioral problems that can be misunderstood by law enforcement.   Mr. Kaepernick could go on to remind people that Freddie Grey, the man killed by police in Baltimore was a lead poisoned child. 

Mr. Kaepernick could share with the community that Alameda County has averaged 300 lead poisoning cases a year the last three years and there has been over 6000 reported cases of elevated blood lead test results in the last twelve years. And that nationally there are over 535,000 kids that have elevated blood lead levels – many of them people of color.  The CDC estimates 4 million kids live in houses where they may be exposed to lead contamination.

And most importantly Mr. Kaepernick could encourage parents to have their children periodically blood lead tested from 12 months to 6 years of age when they are most susceptible to lead induced brain damage.

 How bad is it?

When our Facebook page can hardly miss a day without posting something about lead poisoning taking place somewhere in the U.S. then it is pretty bad!  

So Mr. Kaepernick I can’t get you back in the NFL but if you are looking for another charitable work which I have already seen you do many – I got another team for you to join! The team is called:

SmartOakland Get the Lead Out Coalition

LWB  - Twitter @LawrenceWBrooks