Racial Disparities Receding for Women with Breast Cancer


According to a recent finding from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, younger black and white women benefit equally from timely breast cancer treatment. However, the death rates of women over 50 are still very disproportionately black. The article notes “that 10% to 20% of all diagnosed breast cancers, occur more often in black women than white women. ” The reason is that Black women will get diagnosed more in the later stages of the cancer, as opposed to white women. This relates to class because we have discussed how race plays a part into treatment. It is far to speculate based on the the content of our class that perhaps certain predominately black neighborhoods have less treatment and prevention facilities and/or precautions to offer black women.

With this being said the article does show that the incidence rates are converging. Since 1975 white women have always beat black women in breast cancer diagnosis per year, but as of recently that statistic has shown that it is changing. Now about about 122 Black women for every 100,000 are diagnosed compared to white women and there being 124 diagnosis for every 100,000. This has everything to do with the our class discussions and content because it begs the question: is this a good statistic or a bad one?

On the one hand this could suggest a progress. Perhaps more black women are getting tested and are receiving more treatment. Perhaps black neighborhoods and facilities in those neighborhoods/ communities are improving to a similar caliber as those offered in Predominately White areas. The article also suggests that the black women themselves are finally “heeding to the call for screening tests”, and perhaps self awareness is a factor in this.

However on the flip side this could be a problematic and if anything startling statistic. It could be very much the system at play. Perhaps treatment options and resource distribution hasn’t changed at all for black women, but instead the system working against black people. Maybe pollution and environmental factors have increasingly worsened nationwide for black communities and that is what is causing the increase in rates. In understanding medical apartheid and the discussions surrounding the book in class, the article becomes more nuanced.

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?

Being Black is Bad for Your Health



Earlier in April, U.S. News printed an article about the racial disparities that can be found in healthcare.  This article was suitably titled “Being Black is bad for Your Health.” In the article, the authors compared two communities; one being an affluent white neighborhood and the other being a primarily poor black neighborhood. The comparison revealed that the community that was primarily affluent and white on average had a life expectancy rate around 10 years higher than that of the community that was primarily poor and black. The differences revealed between the communities did not stop at just the mortality rates, but were also exhibited through rates of obesity, asthma, and teen pregnancy. Some of the major points that were highlighted throughout the article were the differences in healthcare between people of color and their white counterparts. Specifically, the article talked about the comparison between the treatments that white people received from physicians and the treatments that people of color received from physicians. Alexander Green, an assistant professor at Harvard and director of the Disparities Solution Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, studied with other researchers the racial disparities in health and discovered an “unconscious bias” that existed in physician behavior towards their patients. Such behavior seemed to extend as far as physicians suggesting more aggressive medications for ailments such as chest pain to a white patient than they would to a patient who is black.

I came across this article as a part of reading assignment that was assigned to me and my classmates in my Freshman Seminar “Is Your Zip Code Your Destiny? Exploring the Social Determinants of Health.” What I found most interesting when reviewing this article was the parallel between the issues that exist in modern day medicine and the issues in historical living laboratories that we have discussed in our Race and Living Laboratories class. What caught my eye in particular, was the noted difference between the recommended treatments provided to black patients and the more aggressive recommended treatments provided to white patients  according to Alexander Green and his fellow researchers’ study. This reminded me of the discussion that we had in class about the historical perspective of physicians neglecting to provide blacks with necessary treatments throughout time and in particular when conducting human experimentation on black people throughout history. In an attempt to reason why physicians might not be inclined to recommend aggressive treatments to patients of color, I recalled what we had talked about in class about the acclaimed “scientifically proven” idea in history that blacks have a much higher tolerance to pain that their white counterparts. As we’ve learned in class, this idea was accepted in science as fact and in turn allowed for many scientists, including the notoriously known Dr. Marion Sims, to subject blacks to cruel scientific treatments and experiments. I found it supremely interesting that there might be a connection or perhaps even a paralleled way of thinking between this archaic notion of higher racial pain tolerance and the medical distribution of lesser aggressive treatments based on race.

Additionally, I thought about the discussion my classmates and I had in class about Ellis Island and how new immigrants would be turned away from America’s doorstep because they fell under the Class C bloc of access denial. The Class C block was designated for those who, although not sick now, were liable to needing healthcare resources in their future years from the American government. In class we discussed that the idea of rejection based on the probability that one will need support later in life stems from the American perception that there are not enough resources for us all with “us” being defined as American born citizens. Taking this view into context, I can picture how the “unconscious behavior” of the physicians in Alexander Green’s research could be under the influence of this notion when recommending the treatments.

When Minority Students Attend Elite Private Schools



Back in 2013, The Atlantic published an article that explored the placement of minority and lower-income students into elite private schools and the impact this has on the psychological and emotional development of the students.

I found this article while researching the discourse of reparations in present-day America. One of the arguments in support of reparations advocated for reparations in the form of school grants that would be given to black students in order to give them exceptional educational opportunities. While this article doesn’t discuss reparations, it does discuss the misconception around the “ticket to upward mobility” elite institutions supposedly grant.

Despite the educational opportunities, private schools simply don’t provide a healthy and psychologically sound environment for minority and lower-income students, who are met with an overwhelming sense of discomfort. This discomfort stems from an environment that stereotypes, degrades, and alienates minority students, who are often the only students of color in their classes. And while private schools, like The Dalton School, are making the effort to diversify their student bodies, more consideration needs to be placed on making the transition for these students an easier one.

In class, we’ve explored not only what counts as a living laboratory, but also the relationships and workings of each living lab. In this case, elite private schools serve as living laboratories that harbor an oppressive environment, impacting the health of the minority students who attend these institutions. The negative relationship between the students’ health and academic environment is one that reflects a history of degrading and belittling people of colors’ appearances and intelligence.

Study: Racial Bias May Start as Early as Preschool


This article discusses the effects of implicit racial biases on black and minority pre-schoolers. The study the article discusses tries to prove that implicit biases effects minorities at even a pre-school level. The study used more than 130 current and student preschool teachers and administrators. The participants were told that the purpose of the experiment was to see how teaches detect challenging behavior. When the test subjects were asked then to observe a class-room of children actors portraying students, the results confirmed the danger in implicit biases. Through eye-tracking technology the researchers were able to find that the teachers kept their eyes on black boys significantly more than any other category of students.

Similarly, in a separate exercise teachers and educators were given a vignette of a 4-year old with behavioral problems. Some of the students were given stereotypical white names, while others were given stereotypically black names. Teachers and educators were also given similar biological information of all the subjects. When they were later asked to rank the students’ behavior they found a strong accordance with race.

In concluding their research, they found that most black and minority students were held to lower standards as opposed to their white counterparts. Teachers and staffers were also noted to have lower standards for behavior for black and minority students.

The findings were requested to be released by the US department of Health and Human services. The way this article relates to our course is that it deals with the manipulation of the health of African Americans and other minorities on account of their race. However in this study, the type of health that is shown to be negatively impacted/ effected is mental health. As the article proves, minority students are disproportionately effected by low expectations that manifest into a self-fulfilling proficy that is able to sustain itself through teachers placing low expectations on black students, and in turn causing them to internalize them and have a low sense of self. The danger of this mental health issue is that children can very easily live up to expectations set up for them.