Care Transformation

Black History Month 2020: Contemporary African American Authors Contributing to Healthcare Equity Advancement

For Black History Month 2020, UW Medicine Healthcare Equity highlights contemporary African American authors whose work adds tremendous value in how we purposefully operationalize the UW Medicine Healthcare Equity Blueprint.  The authors’ insight contextualizes the realities on which our pursuit of healthcare equity rests. Namely, the authors below elucidate poorly understood and oftentimes intentionally bewildering history of racialized medicine including the evolution thereof to present day healthcare services delivery.

Harriet Washington, PhD

Photo Credit: Yale University

Author of Medical Apartheid and at least six other books, Dr. Harriet Washington is a science writer, editor and ethicist.  Dr. Washington has served as research fellow in Medical Ethics for Harvard Medical School, visiting Fellow at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, and visiting scholar at DePaul University College of Law.  At Tuskegee University, Dr. Washington was a senior research scholar at the historically black university’s National Center for Bioethics. She has also held fellowships at Stanford University, holds a degree in English from the University of Rochester, an MA in journalism from Columbia University and in 2016 was elected a Fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine. She teaches a bioethics course at Columbia University and presents her work in the history of medicine to universities throughout the United States and Europe.

Dr. Washington’s book Medical Apartheid, a – UW Medicine Healthcare Equity soon to be featured book – won a National Book Critics Circle Award, the 2007 PEN Oakland Award, and the 2007 American Library Association Black Caucus Nonfiction Award.

Watch the Vox clip below where Dr. Washington shares her knowledge regarding racialized medicine. To read the entire story – Nothing Protects Black Women From Dying in Pregnancy and Childbirth – associated with the video below, click here.

Dorothy Roberts, MD

Photo Credit: Columbia University

Writer of Fatal Invention and many other books, Dr. Dorothy Roberts has built a career in law and public policy. Her work centers on critical contemporary issues related to social justice, bioethics and health – and the disproportionately negative effect they have on the lives of women, children and African Americans. Law Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, she is Penn Law’s 14th Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor with joint appointments in the Departments of Africana Studies and Sociology and the Law School where she holds the inaugural Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander chair.

Dr. Roberts is also founding director of the Penn Program on Race, Science & Society in the Center for Africana Studies.

In this TED Talk, Dr. Roberts talks about present day use of race by healthcare providers as a medical shortcut.

Damon Tweedy, MD

Photo Credit: New York Times

A graduate of Duke University School of Medicine, Dr. Damon Tweedy is an associate professor of psychiatry at Duke University School of Medicine and staff physician at the Durham Veteran Affairs Health System. Dr. Tweedy has published articles about race and medicine in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and Raleigh News & Observer, as well as in various medical journals. He lives outside Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, with his family.

Dr. Tweedy wrote the book, Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine in which he discusses, “…the complex ways in which both black doctors and patients must navigate the difficult and often contradictory terrain of race and medicine.” He recounts experiences as a doctor in which race routinely supplanted medical relevance in shaping healthcare delivery decisions. Dr. Tweedy encounters racialized medicine as a healthcare provider and after developing a chronic disease more common among African Americans.

In the clip below, Dr. Tweedy speaks with CBS Morning about his book.


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