The Star-Ledger

Film To Examine Fight For Equality In Health Care

The Star-Ledger — Thursday, October 29, 2009

By Star-Ledger Guest Columnist

Producer/ Director Crystal Emery’s film, "The Deadliest Disease in America" will be screened tonight at 5 o'clock at the Siegler Hall on the campus of Essex County College, 303 University Ave. The conference is part of a national, civic engagement tour that includes upcoming screenings in Philadelphia, PA; Oakland, CA; Nashville, TN; and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The Deadliest Disease in America is produced by URU The Right to Be, Inc., a nonprofit, advocacy organization that focuses its work on the critical need to reduce disparities and achieve greater health equity in the United States. Hosting this event will be the Social Science Division of Essex County College, Alpha Kapa Alpha Sority, Concerned Black Nurses of Newark, Faith Christian Center, Health Professionals and Allied Employees, New Jersey Citizen Action Education Fund, and West Ward Collective. This event is funded in part by Sanofi Aventis and the Community Health Partnership.

The 55-minute film will be followed by three participatory workshops: “What Racism Look Like in Health Care Delivery and Why You Should Report It,” “Empowering Community Organizations Working with Legislators for Change,” and “Demystifying President Obama’s Health Care Plan.” The later workshop will clarify details of the President’s controversial Health Care Plan. Participants will have an opportunity to express their sentiments about President Obama’s health plan and learn how to distinguish the facts from the media noise.

The documentary follows four individuals, including the filmmaker, Crystal Emery, whose personal stories add to the national debate on our country’s healthcare crisis. She shares her own experience as an African-American encountering racism while navigating the healthcare system “The ultimate goal of this film is to illuminate disparate treatment based on racial, economic and ethnic differences in order to help achieve a healthcare system that serves all Americans equally,” explains the filmmaker. Emery, whose arms and legs are paralyzed as a result of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a form of Muscular Dystrophy, hopes that sharing these stories will stimulate conversations that move individuals to action.

Filmmaker Bill Duke asserts, “...a daring and insightful film . . . challenges all of us to demand equal treatment of everyone in the American healthcare system.” The film also focuses on three organizations, from New England to Texas, whose innovative strategies help mitigate the crisis.

"The Deadliest Disease in America" is a powerful vehicle for educating and galvanizing stakeholders across the nation. “[This] film synthesizes centuries worth of discrimination that you can’t argue with,” contends Yance Ford, Series Producer for PBS’s POV/American Documentary. The film has received the Congressional Black Caucus Health BrainTrust Leadership in Journalism award.

After the film screening and workshops, the evening will end with a Q&A session and dinner. For more information about "The Deadliest Disease in America" and to view a trailer of the film, please visit URU’s website at The event is free to the public, those interested in attending should RSVP via e-mail to or call (973) 877-3251.

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