The Reason So Many Patients Of Color Die Under A Doctor's Care Is That Everybody Is Racist

The Reason So Many Patients Of Color Die Under A Doctor's Care Is That Everybody Is Racist

They're everywhere, all the time.

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Serena Williams, one of the top three or four most famous black women in the world revealed that she nearly died shortly after giving birth to her daughter, Olympia. Williams, who has a history of blood clots, knew that something was wrong a day after her daughter was delivered via an emergency C-section. She claims she informed her nurse that she was short of breath and needed a CT scan and the nurse assumed she was just "confused." Between gasps, Williams had to beg to be seen by a doctor, but instead of the CT scan and blood thinners she had requested, she was given an ultrasound of her legs. When the ultrasound found nothing, she was eventually given the CT scan, and several clots were found in her lungs. She received her heparin immediately.

Just recently, model and actress, Kim Porter died of pneumonia. In 2018, an otherwise healthy 47-year old woman died of pneumonia while under a doctors care. This reminded me of when my mom was also diagnosed with pneumonia. She was in her mid-40's at the time and entrusted a large metropolitan hospital with her care, Broward Hospital. About two days into her stay, she called me upset and annoyed. I asked what was wrong and she said that the nurses were trying to give her treatment that she didn't need. I said, "what do you mean?"

Apparently, while she was asleep, the brought in a breathing machine and attempted to hook her up to it. She woke up and asked what the machine was for and the nurse responded, "well, you're having a hard time breathing, aren't you?" My mom wasn't. In fact, she was thankfully resting peacefully, up until then at least. After that, she lost trust in her nurses and doctors and wondered if there was another patient suffocating to death somewhere on that floor who was supposed to be hooked up to that same machine. Thankfully, my mom survived pneumonia, unlike Ms. Porter.

But if two women like Serena Williams and Kim Porter, well known, wealthy, with access to the best medical care and resources known to man can die in the hands of doctors after and during routine procedures and easily treatable illnesses, then what does that me for me? I'm not a superstar, I'm not rich, I'm a "nobody," without health insurance. And why is this happening?

I'm sure these doctors and nurses aren't stupid. Medicine is a highly respected, and incredibly tough profession that requires years of schooling and testing, so what is the problem? Well, I think it comes down to stereotypes.


Nursing textbook

Stories like Serena Williams' and the high post-delivery mortality rates for black women show that often their concerns, and pain aren't taken seriously, whether it be dismissed, ignored or even chastised. And recent studies have continued to confirm that black people are severely undertreated for pain. Skin color can literally be the difference between life and death.

The narrative that black people feel less pain than white people is a tall tale as old as time. At one point, the United States needed to defend why they though the mercilessly whipping, beating, raping, etc. of slaves was okay. Their solution --- pretend black people were subhuman, and because they decided that slaves weren't really "people," they could argue that they didn't feel pain like people did. And thus, a stereotype was born. Now, centuries later, that same racism has left stains of bias in the medical profession.

It wasn't even too long ago that doctors used unknowing and unconsenting black people to study the effects of syphilis while allowing them to die from the easily treatable disease. So it actually isn't at all surprising that white medical professionals (or even white people in general) have some sort of fantastical or magical view of the superhuman, big black man (or woman) who routinely crashes through walls and feels no pain.


University of Virginia quizzed white medical students and residents

Not only are black patients more likely to be dismissed about their pain in a medical setting, but those who are believed are still more likely to be undertreated for that pain.

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5 Reasons Why Learning About Your Culture Is Essential

"A Nation's Culture Resides In The Hearts And In The souls Of Its People." ~Mahatma Gandhi
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1.) Immersing yourself in the stories of why, when, and where your family first came from and what it meant to them.

Listening to the origin stories your family shares is an important part of the lives who follow and should be taken with an optimistic mindset. Hearing of my father's travels from Europe (Italy) and the adversities he particularly faced upon establishing a life here in the states, both amazes and motivates me--someone who has everything and was brought into the "American Dream." My father arrived in New York in 1973 at the age of twelve with his parents; leaving his home and siblings in the mother country. Like many, America promised a better life and opportunity for those seeking refuge from the nations' troubles and a myriad of other reasons. Learning to speak the English tongue, as well as other dialects of Italian through friends and Spanish from trading words here and there, eventually, my father made a name for himself and started working with his hands. Further down the line, my father met my mother that also came from an Italian family that came here to the states; started a business and the rest is history...rather part of my history.

2.) Attaining and understanding part of your identity

People may sometimes think of their culture being something that was once worn like an article of clothing--it eventually wears down until it is disposed of; this is shameful if it is purposefully done. Like our gender, or our disposition; our we are made into a version of ourselves based off of extrinsic and intrinsic matter that ultimately etches us into a statue. Looking back at my childhood of two worlds combines with the best parts of either, my life could have been more tasteless if the traditions of my family and people before decided to leave the old at the waterline and start anew. Alas, that happens today with people of all ages either ignorant of why they are the way presumed or utter bliss in living completely the American way and everything that follows: media culture, stigmas, hostility towards change and clouded belief for the real issues plaguing our country.

3.) Knowing your history and culture helps us build a sense of pride.

Nationalism is not always the rebellious undertaking of "down with the government" due to oppression; it is also a beautiful word that means patriotic feelings, principles, or efforts regarding your claim for identity. To be honest, I am a proud nationalist regarding the heavily ingrained European culture adapting to the American culture; showing how I am both divided into a two cohorts that mesh into one. Keeping the struggles from our own individual past through the ages into the very place we reside in now aids in creating a sense of who we are and what we choose to be.

4.) Learning about your own culture helps to understand someone else's.

We live in a fish bowl filled with our own ignorance of the world surrounding us and the various culture outside of our privileged society. Essentially, learning how other people act within their way of life compared to our own is vital in comprehending how others view us as we might view them. Firstly, one needs to be around other cultures; there is no way around this to flow into the following step without interpersonal interaction. Secondly, when near people belonging to different cultures, keep an eye out for three things: moments of tension, any misunderstandings (body language, the tone of speech, physical contact), and anger.

5.) Keeping your language of origin alive serves more than being a creative tongue.

Keeping up with the language belonging to your culture is a great first accomplishment. One way of helping children (or anyone interested in their roots) appreciate divergence is the value of the slew of cultures and that each is different with equally significant importance. On the abstract side, stigmas are stories only partially told, the rest is glazed over with ignorance and fear of what was once a norm; now a strange shadow that follows many.

Bonus: You are what you say you are but also what you choose to let in.

Make peace with every aspect of your beautiful life and soul. Regardless of who or what binds you together, culture is only a sliver of that with the same, but very much different DNA that makes this the ultimate history lesson.

Cover Image Credit: Afterschool Snack

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I Always Stood Out Because Of The Color Of My Skin

My peers always pointed out my differences.

hannahd
hannahd
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It's February and you know what that means? It's Black History Month! Have you ever felt like you stick out? Felt like you don't belong somewhere? Felt awkward when you went to hang-out with friends at their house that are a different skin tone then you? Welcome to my life I did all when I was growing up, but I have learned to branch out of that and being comfortable in my own skin. I always wanted to fit in when I was little around the time I was in elementary school.

I felt like my hair couldn't be different and I didn't really know why my hair was different, I just knew I stood out.

Now do not get me wrong I absolutely loved when my mom would put my hair in braids and would put beads in it. I loved swinging my hair around basically smacking myself in the face with my hair lol! I felt like Beyoncé when I would flick my hair because that what she did and I wanted to be like her. Having a different hair texture also meant that when it wasn't the same as everyone else they wanted to touch it.

News flash DO NOT TOUCH MY HAIR.

You don't know where other's people's hands have been and especially being younger were playing and people stick their hands in their nose and mouth so I definitely didn't want nasty hands in my hair.

In middle school and high school, I remember being in history class and we would talk about slaves / and Africans and African Americans and my peers would put their head up and look at me as if I was there during that time. I mean YES that is my history but I was not there during that time period, and staring at me won't help me. Talking about specific things in class such as discrimination is something I know I could speak on during class because I have witnessed it first-hand.

Being black you almost have to watch your back at all times. By that I mean you need to stand up for what you deserve! People treat you different almost as if you are fragile. On the other hand, some look at you and are waiting for you to snap or act "ghetto" because we are seen with a stereotype and people expect us to act a certain way.

As I became older I started to realize that I am not the same. I am not meant to be the same.

God made me the way I am for a reason.

I am black for a reason. I am beautiful and I am strong. I never want to feel ashamed for who I am and who God created me to be. My black is beautiful. Feeling beautiful in your own skin is important regardless of whatever color you might be.

"Black Power is giving power to people who have not had power to determine their destiny." — Huey P. Newton
hannahd
hannahd

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