The mission of the Black is Black Coalition Healthcare Working Group is to establish an advocacy network of revolutionary people who are involved in healthcare, whether it be allopathic or naturopathic, who can provide support for members in need, while also establishing a repository of progressive, cutting edge information on holistic, and revolutionary healthcare modalities to challenge the paradigm of the current racist, for profit medical industrial complex. Today, modern medicine is predicated on pain and disease management, in which the concept of “care” is shaped by the pharmaceutical industry. This has resulted in the overuse of extremely aggressive procedures and the over prescribing of medications with toxic side effects, to the exclusion of nutrition and effective non invasive modalities. And historically, Black and Brown communities have been the testing ground for experimentation with high risk medical procedures and medications. This racist culture is so embedded in modern medicine that James Marion Sims, a 19th century surgeon who operated on the skulls of enslaved African children, and performed operations on African men and women without anesthesia, is so revered by today’s medical establishment that he is referred to as the father of gynecology. The trend of the medical torture of African people is well researched by ethicist, Harriet Washington, who documented such abuses well into the late twentieth century and far beyond Tuskegee. In the epilogue of her critically acclaimed book, “Medical Apartheid,” she issues an ominous warning stating that while today more laws have been enacted in this country to curtail the medical abuses of African Americans [much still remains to be done], that America now exports the harshest of its medical sadism to Africa, as western physicians, scientists, and pharmaceutical companies seek large populations of people of color upon which to unleash their unscrupulous experiments and practices.
Recognizing that the twin evils of capitalism and racism have infested every social system within this society, including healthcare, it is not enough to simply call for affordable healthcare. Whereas the Black Liberation Struggle has been on the forefront of giving voice to the deleterious impact of structural racism in the judicial and law enforcement systems on communities of color, we must become equally as vocal about the devastating effects of structural racism in medicine. As recently as 2011, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ, which is directed by Congress to produce annual reports to track racial and socio-economic disparities in healthcare) reported that Blacks received worse care than Whites in 67 measures that were used to track the quality of care. According to the National Medical Association (2001), “racism is, at least in part, responsible for the fact that African Americans, since arriving as slaves, have had the worst health care, the worst health status, and the worst health outcome of any racial or ethnic group in the U.S.” Clearly, the Black Liberation struggle must make revolutionary healthcare an integral part of our liberation and our fight for self determination. And it is the goal of this working group to arm our members with a wealth of information on affordable and accessible alternative healthcare solutions, while working with anyone within the medical profession seeking to make significant changes to the way healthcare is administered in this society.
PLEASE NOTE: providing information about various healthcare modalities should in no way be construed as an endorsement of one modality over the other by the Black is Back Coalition.
AHRQ, “2011 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report”
Washington, Harriet. Medical Apartheid, copywrite 2006
W. Michael Byrd, MD, MPH and Linda A. Clayton, MD, MPH. “Race, Medicine, and Health Care in the United States: an Historical Survey