The Woke Doctor Will See You Now
White Coats 4 Black Lives and “Health Equity”
We’re witnessing the corruption of the medical profession in more ways than one. This is not to say that there aren’t stellar health care workers and providers, or that we should refuse to take prescribed medications, visit our doctors, or denounce modern medicine. As a cancer survivor, I am an adamant supporter of Western medicine, good doctors, and scientific-driven health care that has saved my life more than once. Sadly, all of these things are now under assault.
Here are a few recent news stories from the highlight reel:
The U.S. government prioritized minorities and “essential workers” for the first round of vaccines because the elderly (a.k.a., those most at risk) were “too white.” Some COVID-19 health care continues to be distributed more by race than need in several cases.
A medical school professor is shamed into apologizing for implying that only women can get pregnant.
Federal agencies like the CDC and NIH boldly claim that all health disparities between whites and minorities are due to structural racism; therefore, racism is a “serious threat to public health.” The remedy is “health equity.”
The American Medical Association embraces anti-racism, the centering of minority identities, racial justice, and health equity in the practice of medicine in America.
What is health equity? According to a post on New Discourses, health equity requires that different identity groups have the same outcomes as majority or “privileged” identity groups because all outcome disparities are evidence of systemic discrimination. In order to do so, this requires distributing health care resources and care based on an individual’s identities like race and sexuality, not an individual’s need. And proponents of health equity don’t care that this would constitute discrimination and the politicization of medicine.
White Coats 4 Black Lives
One organization called White Coats 4 Black Lives (WC4BL) is a leading advocate for health equity. According to its website, “WhiteCoats4BlackLives is a medical trainee-run organization…” whose mission is “to dismantle racism and accompanying systems of oppression in health, while simultaneously cultivating means for collective liberation that center the needs, priorities, and self-determination of Black people and other people of color, particularly those most marginalized in our communities.”
Even though WC4BL’s vision and value manifesto does make a few points with which I agree, the piece reads like an ideological tome devoid of medical or scientific influence like basic statistics, citations of studies, and scientific language. It hardly mentions any medical conditions or specific treatments, and nearly all of its citations are woke texts, not scientific studies.
While there’s quite an abundance of misleading, fallacious, and outright false claims to unpack in this manifesto, for the sake of space I will address two problems: attaching medicine to alleged crimes of “whiteness” and the assertation that public health necessitates a new political order.
If you’re curious about the responses to other sections, please comment below, and I will respond.
Medicine and the Alleged Crimes of “Whiteness”
In its document titled “Our Visions and Values,” WC4BL proclaims: “Our job is two-fold: 1) dismantling dominant, exploitative systems in the United States, which are largely reliant on anti-Black racism, colonialism, cisheteropatriarchy, white supremacy, and capitalism…” The document then lays out the argument that Western medicine is a product of and tool for racial oppression.
And while racial minorities have been the subjects of shady medical experiments, which is both tragic and repressible, these claims ignore how George Washington inoculated his white soldiers from smallpox in Valley Forge, a move that helped develop the modern vaccine. The carnage of the Civil War, where hundreds of thousands of white men died to free the slaves, advanced the medical practices of triage and amputations. These are just a couple examples that demonstrate WC4BL’s racialized cherry-picking of history.
WC4BL also claims that “Capitalism, which aims to maximize profit, is antithetical to the health and well-being of marginalized populations, particularly Black people in the United States” and “Socialism provides one alternative that establishes collectively-owned resources and prioritizes basic human rights.” Even though I agree that Big Pharma and insurance companies contribute several of the problems in the American health care industry, the American capitalist system leads the world in the creation of new drugs and medical devices, among other impressive medical accomplishments. Sometimes you really do get what you pay for, as anyone who has purchased cheap toilet paper can tell you.
This claim also expresses an outdated, incomplete view of capitalism that should include the relationship between free markets and both economic and political rights of the individual, the economic and political development capitalism has helped usher into third world countries, and that the American health care system is a form of crony capitalism because of Obamacare and our over reliance on health insurance that distort the markets.
The document also claims that Western medicine is a form of colonialism and imperialism because it undermines other forms of health care and treatment. Yes, how dare westerners go to impoverished countries on their own dime treating those most in need with medicine and supplies readily available to Americans at their neighborhood drugstores! If this ridiculous claim is true, why would WC4BL also demand socialized access to this kind of medicine and insist that black and brown people be treated by fully trained and licensed professionals instead of students? Isn’t that just complicity with an alleged corrupt system?
Public Health Necessitates a New Political Order
The second part of WC4BL’s job is “2) rebuilding a future that supports the health and well-being of marginalized communities.” The document argues that because policing and incarceration are forms of systemic racism that cause undue stress, and therefore, bad outcomes, for people of color (Black people in particular), we must “defund the police,” abolish the prison system as well as ICE and immigration detention.
Then, WC4BL claims that because the War on Drugs was racially motivated, a necessary step in harm reduction for medical care for communities of color must include ways to “destigmatize and decriminalize drug use” and “decriminalize sex work,” through policies like funding needle exchange programs and providing “safe consumption and injection spaces.” So social acceptance exposure to infections, diseases, and toxins is a necessary solution to health disparities among various identities.
And when it comes to “queer and trans liberation,” WC4BL is “committed to centering needs and dreams of BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) queer and trans people in the fight for racial justice…” which requires, among other things, that we “abolish carceral systems” and allow workers to add as many family members and romantic partners to their health insurance as they want. Yes, the dreams of the oppressed can come true when they can add anyone they want to their health insurance policy. There’s no chance of fraud with that.
These claims and demands are non sequitur, lacking in evidence, and having nothing to do with health care. Based on this logic, anything that causes a group undue stress is a public health threat regardless of the preconditions or lifestyle of the individuals in that group. If that’s the case, I’m blaming my sugar addiction on… CNN. We must suspend the 1stAmendment to shut CNN down in the name of public health!
WC4BL offers no statistics or proof for these claims or explains why the problems and solutions are related. It’s clear that WC4BL is draping the white lab coat of science over unscientific, woke demands that, if enacted, will force the health care industry to give deferential treatment based on race, sexuality, and other identities. Such actions would be considered racist, sexist, and discriminatory, but to say so would rely on the use of that inconvenient, “colonial” Western logic.
We need to protect American medicine from insidious ideologies like the ones promoted by groups like White Coats 4 Black Lives. Health care professionals and patients alike deserve and must demand better. We have elements of our health care system that require reform, not racialization. Focusing on politics over patients isn’t the answer. No spoon full of sugar can make that poisonous medicine go down without dire consequences.
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