Op-Ed: Medical Racism Is a Thing-Let’s Stop Downplaying It

A recent study revealed that Black people who live in US counties with Black doctors have a higher life expectancy, and all I can say is that this is not a coincidence. Due to a mix of systematic and medical racism, Black people all over the U.S. are dying of illnesses that white people seamlessly overcome.

This study did not reveal the cause of the overwhelming evidence being a portrayal of the deep necessity for Black doctors, however, it doesn’t take a genius to know that what the problem is.

The same applies for the Hispanic community. As harsh as it sounds, a white doctor is more likely to believe a fellow white person of a 10 in the pain scale than a Black or Hispanic person. This is not something than can be cured by sensitivity training or a guideline to be unbiased, this biased nature is something that has been instilled deep in the unconscious minds of Americans due to decades of a racist mindset engraved in us by a majority of white educators.

And contrary to popular believe, racism is not just judging someone based on skin color or spewing derogatory terms; it also entails a judgement based on the stereotypes attached to the skin color, and it counts just the same when it is done unconsciously, rather than consciously. This lethal healthcare problem is based on an unconscious bias that must be actively resisted every day, and that can’t happen when most of America isn’t even aware of the gravity of the situation.

The healthcare system is built to underserve communities of minorities, and according to CNN a third of Americans don’t care.

Underdeveloped and inefficient healthcare access is life threatening. And this murderous issue is overwhelmingly underdiscussed. The reason for this can’t be lack of proof, because when the notorious Covid-19 pandemic arrived, communities of color were hit the hardest, and this cannot be a coincidence. Black people were dying in the pandemic at twice the rate of white Americans. While about 1 in every 2,150 white American died of Covid-19, the number for Black Americans was about 1 in every 1,000.

Getting treatment and diagnosis for an illness takes significantly less time for a white person. This being because people of color often suffer from a lack of economic resources, limited access to healthcare, and delay in treatment. And a recent Cigna study linked all of this with higher rates of cancer, diabetes, childhood obesity, and heart disease among Black Americans.

The overwhelming amount of proof of medical racism proves just how much ignorance surrounds this lethal issue.

The number of proven facts that bear witness to the damaging effect of medical racism is embarrassing for the third of Americans that refuse to acknowledge it. These are some of them:

  1. “Predominantly Black ZIP codes are 67% more likely than other ZIP codes to lack adequate numbers of primary care physicians (PCPs), according to a 2012 study.”
  2. “Black Americans ultimately wait longer than white patients for life-saving treatments, such as initial EKGs.”
  3. “46% of Black working-age adults live in the 15 states that refused to implement the ACA’s expanded Medicaid benefits.”
  4. “20% of Black adults and 35% of Latinx adults can not access health insurance compared with 10% of white and Asian adults”
  5. “Well-documented studies show patients with darker skin tones of all ages receive lower doses of pain medication compared with white patients in the United States.”

And still, less than half of Americans believe that systemic and medical racism is one of the main reasons people of color have poorer health outcomes.

There is a deep and engraved custom that goes beyond obvious racial discrimination. The obscurity of this issue and the lack of bluntness of the racism makes it easy to ignore, but the effects are there, and they’re killing thousands of human beings faster than the inevitable mortality of men. Except we are causing this issue, not the earth and its finite nature, not the terminable essence of humans; us, the cruelty of our outdated ancestors, and the prejudiced history that haunts us.


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