Racism and Bias in Medicine

To kick off our reflection series, I’d like to talk about racism and bias in medicine (Day 19 and 20) — an extremely relevant topic, given the anti-Asian racism and racial disparities we’re seeing with COVID-19.

There are so many layers to this conversation, but I want to focus on this video, where author Harriet Washington brings up the term iatrophobia, meaning “fear of the healer.” Folks (especially folks with white privilege, like myself) may ask, “Why would anyone fear the healer?” But what follows in the video is a timeline of violence, abuse, and discrimination carried out by white doctors/institutions against Black and Brown communities. Washington asks, “As African-Americans, we’ve been abused for so long consistently by the system, why should we trust it?”

Despite our agency’s genuine commitment to supporting all survivors, we all have to carry out our work knowing that many survivors see Cleveland Rape Crisis Center as part of that institution. As an organization, we must continue to prioritize listening to survivors of color, showing up in our community, and working to build trust.

Today, I challenge myself and I challenge you to consider the above video, and the following CRCC Equity Primes: 1.) How is my action empowering (or isolating) others who are often marginalized? and 2.) How does this action center the needs of people who have historically been marginalized?

Thank you, advocates, for the important work you are doing, and for your commitment to supporting survivors of all identities.

Take care,

Kim Haggerty