Drs. still think that black people feel less pain than whites and that hurts
University of Virginia researchers created a quiz that revealed at least half of white medical students still believe that black peoples’ nerve endings are less sensitive than white peoples and that their blood coagulates faster. Those same students believed that black patients’ experience less pain than white patients and treated black patients symptoms less seriously and frequently under medicated them.
In America there has been an upside to this in that the opioid epidemic has affected black Americans to a lesser degree than it has white Americans. Two of the reasons for this are, again the inadequate pain relief black patients recieve and the pervasive misconception that black Americans are more likely to abuse prescription drugs than white Americans. This is simply not true as multiple studies and much researched has proved. The misuse of prescribed drugs kills more white Americans than it does people of any other color.
These racist practices and beliefs come at the cost of black mothers suffering needlessly through childbirth and black children given insufficient pain relief for appendicitis. All the recent studies agree that this form of medical racism is due to unconscious bias (in this case otherness and animalization among others) and the inability to empathize with those of another color whose life experience doesn’t mirror their own. All of our unconscious biases influence everything we do and the medical community is as guilty of this as any other.
Further examples of the systematic, institutional and cultural racism in the medical field are the black people in hospice dying in pain. The longer wait times in emergency rooms. The fact that black children’s oral pain due to cavities, tonsillectomies or adenoidectomies is frequently undertreated.
We have got to start teaching white people to understand their biases. We need to start educating children in schools about how unconscious biases work and that they are far from harmless.
Our world is deeply racist and our individual automatic reflexive thoughts cause us to behave/act in ways both big and small (microaggressions) that cause black people to experience “actual” physical pain.
It makes me sick. Good thing I’m white….
Article by VERVE Founder & CFO (Chief Feminist Operative) Anna Quick-Palmer