In an article titled “I'm Black and My Doctor Should Be Too,” Alexander Hardy, a self-described “wordsmith, educator, mental health advocate, foodie and lupus survivor,” posits that if you’re black, you’re better off having a black doctor than a white doctor because, you know, white doctors are racist.
Reciting various anecdotes of blacks who have been treated brutally, shabbily or hastily by white doctors, Hardy opines, “Disparities in the way white doctors assess the pain of their black patients versus their white patients are well documented.”
Hardy buttresses his claims to racism among white doctors with a 2015 study by the psychology and family medicine departments at the University of Virginia that explored bias in pain perception and treatment, and "false beliefs about biological differences between blacks and whites." He adds, “As the researchers anticipated, the ‘laypersons’ who held false beliefs about biological differences rated the pain of the blacks lower than the whites."
Now that’s slightly revealing: “As the researchers anticipated”?
Hardy quotes Suzette Creighton, “director of risk management and quality improvement for a busy east coast hospital,” as she uses leftist tropes to bolster her position:
Any time you don't have to explain the subtleties of your world, your comfort increases. It doesn't seem as strange to explain to your fellow black American doctor why it's hard to stick to your new cardiac diet when Big Mama is inviting you to Sunday dinner. And the micro-aggressions that can occur are deadly to building rapport and trust, the same way it is in any working relationship.
Hardy cites a study from the University of Boston school of dental medicine stating that black patients are half as likely to receive opioid prescriptions during emergency room visits as another source for his position.
Hardy cites old history, too, including the anesthesia-free experiments and surgeries that physician James Marion Sims performed on black female slaves as well as the infamous Tennessee Tuskegee Experiment, in which the US Public Health Service studied untreated syphilis in 399 black men in Alabama between 1932-72 while denying them treatment in order to gain data.
Hardy is certainly correct that racism used to be a terrible factor in the way blacks were treated medically, but for him to say that white doctors should not be trusted en masse because of others who have actually exhibited racism is also racist. And it is always possible that some of the horrible doctors who treated blacks badly also treated their white patients badly.
But it’s much easier to make a blanket charge then to engage in rational thinking.