Why Healthcare is Racist
Racism is an inherent part of the structure that built our healthcare system. It’s our job as healthcare professionals to recognize that, and to actively work against racism moving forward.
If you’re curious about my claim that race has no biological or genetic connection, I encourage you to look into the process of how 23andMe sources their ethnicity population data. It’s really interesting, and shows how difficult it is for DNA to trace where people’s ancestors come from (never mind how that correlates to the self-identified race of each person). If a person from the Dominican Republic identifies as Black, for example, and an old US healthcare algorithm codes them as “African-American,” the entire idea becomes several layers of incorrect. This person may actually consider their ethnicity Latino, but they’ve been categorized in the system through their skin color. There are so many factors that go into how our physical features present themselves through our genetics, and it becomes dangerous to code people by the color of their skin.
I will also touch on the subject of GFR– I recognize that when people try to remove race from the current GFR algorithm, some experts say it makes the results less accurate. My response to that is, “It’s time to rework the entire thing.” If your GFR calculation accuracy hinges on a scientifically disproven idea that Black patients have more muscle mass, then you’re like me with my car: limping along with no idea how it works, and praying that keeps running. Don’t be like me with my car!