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The Power of Black Patients’ Testimonies When Teaching Medical Racism 

The Power of Black Patients’ Testimonies When Teaching Medical Racism
Chapter:
The Power of Black Patients’ Testimonies When Teaching Medical Racism
Author(s):

Keisha Ray

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780190636890.003.0008
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date: 30 June 2022

Finding comprehensive texts that help instructors teach the relationship between race and medicine can be difficult. If medical education texts do include a discussion of race, it typically recounts some historical and famous cases of racially motivated abuse, such as the “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male,” but not much else. After years of using medical education textbooks in courses, the author began to reflect on the message that textbooks’ handling of race must send to bioethics and medical humanities students. Given how little attention these textbooks give to race, a student could easily receive the mistaken message that racist treatment of black patients is a thing of the past or that racism in medicine must be insignificant and infrequent. When teaching medical racism, historical cases of unethical treatment of black patients should be supplanted with recent testimonials from black patients, to put a contemporary face on the topic. This is an effective way to teach medical racism either to students who will have interactions with patients or to current medical practitioners. The chapter includes an exercise on the feminist concept of intersectionality to discuss the many social and cultural categories, other than just race, that we all occupy to help students learn to see black patients as more than just a skin color.

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