Today’s episode is more than just medicine; today, we will talk about something that many people fail to recognize. Something that is written in the records, yet many people ignore or refuse to acknowledge. Today, we will talk about history – the history between medicine and the African-American community in particular.

When we talk about chronic diseases, African Americans are always at a higher risk than any other community. The same is the case when talking about lack of trust in the healthcare system; only 3% of Black Americans believe that doctors will do what is best for them, and 50% of them believe that the healthcare system as a whole is racist.

It is sad, but that’s the reality, and there’s no way we can address the health disparities and the distrust if we don’t understand why the disparity and distrust are there to begin with.

That’s why in line with Black History Month, we will be talking about the connection between medicine and African-American history. Join me as I shed light on why we can’t discuss the advancements of modern medicine without mentioning all the atrocities, deceit, and exploitation that it did on the African-American community.

Why you need to check out this episode:

  • Take a look back into the dark history between the African-American and medical community and how it lead to the overall distrust of African-Americans in the medical system of the United States;
  • Discover why African-Americans are always at a higher risk of getting chronic diseases in America; and
  • Understand why it is important to have a diverse cultural competency in the field of medicine

“We couldn’t and we shouldn’t talk about how great medicine has gotten without talking about how bad medicine used to be, especially to a particular community.” –Dr. Berry Pierre

Topics Covered:

00:00 – Today’s focus: The significant relevance between medicine and African-American history and how it played a role in what we see as modern medicine in the present

02:24 – The legacy of medical experimentation: How the Tuskegee study, the Henrietta Lacks incident, and other histories of deceit and exploitation ruined the trust of African-Americans in medicine up to this day

10:30 – Statistics from a JAMA study showing the distrust of the African-American community in the medical system of the United States

11:58 – Health disparities faced by the African-American community: The reasons why African-Americans are at a significantly higher risk of getting chronic diseases

19:33 – Efforts to address health disparities and lack of trust: Increasing diversity and improving cultural competence in the field of medicine

22:33 – Episode wrap-up: You can’t talk about the advancements of medicine without talking about African-American history

Notable Quotes:

“When you have that study. [Tuskegee Syphilis Study] being such a significant study that it has been deemed one of the most infamous biomedical research studies of all time, then you can’t fast forward into 2023 asking ‘Hey, why doesn’t this community trust us, doctors?’…The proof is in the pudding. It’s in the history” – Dr. Berry Pierre

“If we’re going to talk about Black History month, and if you’re going to be talking on a medicine show like this one, you better talk about all the atrocities, you better talk about how this history of medicine does not get here without African-American history.”- Dr. Berry Pierre

“You can’t improve the health disparities if you don’t understand why the health disparities are there; you can’t improve the lack of trust if you don’t understand why the lack of trust is there.”- Dr. Berry Pierre

“If you don’t know how you can pick up these types of cancer, then how can you prevent it? …You can’t prevent what you don’t know is coming at you”– Dr. Berry Pierre

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