Half of Dermatologists Say They Weren’t Trained to Spot Cancer on Black Skin


This article very shortly, but effectively, discusses the intersection between race and medicine, particularly in medical schools and the training provided to prospective doctors/dermatologists. The article briefly mentions how half of physicians in a survey believed that there were “biological differences in pain perception between blacks and whites”, but also that they were “30 percent less likely to give pain medication to black patients than white patients”.

This statistic reflects the historical attitude we analyzed in Unit 1–an attitude that dehumanized black bodies in an effort to perpetuate subjugation and slavery; the parallels between the history we read in Medical Apartheid and the 21st century medical field are scarily similar in this respect. Just like Washington noted and explored the “scientific racism” prevalent in colonial times, demonstrating the ways white doctors experimented on black bodies and how they justified their actions with the idea that black bodies had a higher pain tolerance, this article points out that same mindset and from that we can see the continuity in scientific racism. Evidently, this attitude continues to manifest itself in the medical field.

This attitude is also built through medical schools and the ways in which they fail to effectively train dermatologists, who confessed that they “were not trained to spot signs of cancer on black skin” which leads to a higher mortality rate for black Americans who aren’t effectively treated in time. I know that in Unit 1 we discussed the way scientific racism manifested itself in the past and the ways it has engrained itself into the present; but, who’s to blame in this situation? Is it the individual or the institution? Who is responsible for creating and enforcing what’s taught in medical schools and what can be done about it?

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