Medical History

as it pertains to your race… A Must Watch TED TALK!


Samuel A. Cartwright (Physician)

An expert on negro medicine who promoted the racial concept of disease. That people of different races suffer from different diseases and experience common diseases differently. Cartwright argued in the 1850’s that slavery was beneficial for black people for medical reasons. He claimed that because black people have lower lung capacity than whites, forced labor was good for them. He wrote in a medical journal, “It is the red vital blood sent to the brain that liberates their minds when under the white man’s control and it is the want of deficiency of red vital blood that chains their minds to ignorance and barbarism when in freedom.”


                                                                                   To support this theory Cartwright helped to perfect a medical device for measuring breathing called the Spirometer to show the presumed deficiency in black people’s lungs. Today, doctors still uphold Cartwright’s claim that black people as a race have lower lung capacity than white people. Some even use a modern day Spirometer that actually has a button labelled race so the machine adjusts the measurement for each patient according to his or her race. Its a well known function called, “Correcting for Race.”


After watching this TED talk bring up the issues with race-based medicine I could not help but consider all the black people and Afro-Latinos who’ve been deemed with the diagnosis of Asthma. It may very well be an unfortunate coincidence in living in a city with poor air quality or it may be a premature diagnosis that offers the medical industry millions of dollars from misdiagnosed patients. This is a clear demonstration of how important it is for one to study various subjects in history as it pertains to your own kind of people who carry your similar genetic make-up. ~YtheG

Dorothy Roberts: The problem with race-based medicine

Social justice advocate and law scholar Dorothy Roberts has a precise and powerful message: Race-based medicine is bad medicine. Even today, many doctors still use race as a medical shortcut; they make important decisions about things like pain tolerance based on a patient’s skin color instead of medical observation and measurement. In this searing talk, Roberts lays out the lingering traces of race-based medicine — and invites us to be a part of ending it. “It is more urgent than ever to finally abandon this backward legacy,” she says, “and to affirm our common humanity by ending the social inequalities that truly divide us.”














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