Race Based Medicine, Colorblind Disease: How Racism in Medicine Harms Us All

American Journal of Bioethics, Forthcoming

Posted: 3 Nov 2020

See all articles by Ruqaiijah Yearby

Ruqaiijah Yearby

Saint Louis University - School of Law

Date Written: September 13, 2020

Abstract

The genomic age showed that the genome between humans was 99.5%-99.9% identical; the .1%-.5% variation between any two unrelated individuals was greatest between individuals in the same local population; and there were no identifiable continental or racial genomic clusters (Roberts, 2012; Kahn, 2013; Cavalli-Sforza, Menozzi, and Piazza 1994; Lewontin 2005; Maglo, Mersha, and Martin 2016; Yu et al. 2002; Lao et al. 2008; Plaza et al. 2003; Levy et al. 2007, Jorde 2003; Perez-Rodriguez and de la Fuente, 2017; American College of Cardiology, 2018; National Kidney Foundation, 2014). Notwithstanding this evidence, biological race and sometimes ethnicity continue to be noted as factors in health disparities research, medical guidelines, and standards of care (Swetlitz, 2016; Nelson and Hackman, 2013; Shriner and Rotini, 2018; Wakefield, et al. 2018; American College of Cardiology, 2018; National Kidney Foundation, 2014; Adler and Rehkopf, 2008). Most recently, the Journal of Internal Medicine published an article that connected obesity disparities in Blacks with the “unique contributions of physiologic factors related to race,” which was rightly challenged because the researchers claimed that unspecified genomic racial differences linked to skin color caused these unique contributions to Blacks’ physiologic differences (Gower and Fowler, 2020; Tsai et al. 2020). Thus, even though there are no identifiable racial genomic clusters, race continues to be misused as a biological reality in health disparities research, medical guidelines, and standards of care. This article discusses how the continued misuse of race in medicine and the identification of Whites as the control group are examples of racism in medicine that harm all Americans.

Keywords: Racism, Medicine, Health Dispartities, Medical Guidelines, Sickle Cell, Breast Cancer, Health Policy

JEL Classification: I1, I10, I14, 100, K32

Suggested Citation

Yearby, Ruqaiijah, Race Based Medicine, Colorblind Disease: How Racism in Medicine Harms Us All (September 13, 2020). American Journal of Bioethics, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3692007

Ruqaiijah Yearby (Contact Author)

Saint Louis University - School of Law ( email )

100 N. Tucker Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63101
United States
314.977.3326 (Phone)

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