The legacy of racism is one of the social issues that is still common in the contemporary society. Racism works towards enhancing the superiority of one race over another, which leads to discrimination of people based on their ethnicity. Racism is based on the notion that people can be subdivided into groups that are distinct due to their skin colour, economic status, institutional, and cultural beliefs. The history of the development of racism is attributed to slavery, where the blacks were mistreated by the whites and made to work on the farms as a cheap source of labour (Fredrickson, 2015). The whites ruled and made decisions, making the blacks tied to slavery since they were not involved in decision-making. The white race was further viewed as being beautiful while the black race was seen as being animal-like, ugly, and inferior. Privileges and rights were granted to the white Americans while the other races were denied rights of access to certain facilities, including and not limited to healthcare, education, voting rights, citizenship, and land acquisition. The people from Middle East American communities, such as Jews and Arabs further faced discrimination due to their race, since they were not considered as being entirely white. In the contemporary society, racism continues to prevail, especially in the medical field, despite the laws that have been developed to enhance equality in dealing with people from different ethnic backgrounds. Racism was banned in the mid-20th century, but a more significant percentage of the people still feel alienated and racial stratification is reflected in various aspects, including medical, socioeconomic and political, employment, education, and housing (Cole 2016). Anti-racism movements and policies have also been enacted to oppose racism in various societies, including the affirmative action and hate crime laws. This essay addresses racism in the medical field based on patient treatment and treatment availability.
Tremendous changes have occurred since the conception of racism. The way different sectors operate have been influenced by racism, where people have to be attended to, basing on their racial identity. The medical sector is one of the crucial fields where racism has dominated in serving various patients. In an article by Monique Tello (2017), doctors before they take office take an oath to treat all patients equally but fail to fulfil their promise. Racism has been witnessed in various medical facilities, where doctors operate in an inherently racist system. Tello (2017) gives an instance of a patient who visited the hospital with a dire need of accessing treatment for a painful medical condition. The doctors were quick to send her away without making any diagnosis simply because she was black. Treatment, therefore, is not offered equally to all patients since blacks are discriminated against. According to Tello (2007), blacks and other minority groups in the United States experience more illnesses and premature deaths as compared to the whites. The bias in the medical field, therefore, widens the gaps between people from different races thus enhancing racism. Tello (2007) further offers solutions to the problem by addressing the need to understand the attitudes and actions posed by racism in the medical field. Medical education should also be carried out to sensitize medical facilities on the need for treating all patients equally when offering treatment. Further, policies should be developed to ensure that various institutions work according to set rules and regulations in addressing the needs of multiple patients (Tello, 2017). People should also be able to control their implicit biases, practice respect, tolerance, and ability and to work in harmony with each other.
Williams and Purdie-Vaughns (2016) support Tello (2017) arguments by offering discussions on the disparities in health and proposed solutions. According to Williams and Purdie-Vaughns (2016), documenting the existence and the tenacity of racism has become difficult, as adults particularly do not plausibly recognize it. This evidence also shows that in addition to deliberate and conscious processes, human beings participate in unconscious, automatic, and effortless processes and respond to situations based on the images that are stored in their memory. Americans, for instance, tend to portray negative feelings towards obese people, black people, and Latinos. The United States is among racialized countries in the world that stigmatize and discriminate people who have had poor health conditions as compared to their privileged and advantaged counterparts. This has been manifested by high mortality rates, early onset of diseases and severe conditions of illness that may result to impairment. The neglected racial populations are likely to have very little access to medical care, and even if they do, they receive poor quality of services. These patterns are more evident among African Americans, followed by American Indian, the Latinos, and lastly Native Hawaiian (Williams & Purdie-Vaughns, 2016). Even though health disparities based on race have reduced over time, they are still evident at different levels including health and income. Williams argues that there should be efforts to capture the implicit measures of discrimination in healthcare. This would ensure that racial groups do not yield to discrimination but rather fight towards achieving equality in accessing treatment.
Justice is one of the principles that govern medical ethics. As such, medical institutions should work towards ensuring that they are fair in offering treatment to all patients despite their racial identity. The government should perhaps look for ways in ensuring that there is an equal distribution of medical facilities and resources to American citizens. This includes the enactment of strict rules and policies that govern the way medical institutions function in the treatment of patients. That way, there will be a shift from issues of race and discrimination into focussing on making people's lives better. Even though we might try to avoid the issue of race, it is evident that it continues to take place in the contemporary society. Therefore, as Tello (2007) suggests, there is the need to find a lasting solution to racism by developing institutional policies and sensitization programs. According to Henricks (2015), people with ethnic identity should learn to ignore stereotypes that have since existed in the society. They should not wait upon movements and policies that advocate for equal opportunities and rights but join such movements and interest groups in a bid to end racism.
Cole, M. (2016). Racism: A critical analysis (p. 264). London: Pluto Press.
Fredrickson, G. M. (2015). Racism: A short history. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Henricks, K. (2015). Racism, Structural and Institutional. The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity, and Nationalism, 1-8.
Tello, M. (2017). Racism and discrimination in health care: Providers and patients. Harvard Health Publications.
Williams, D. R., & Purdie-Vaughns, V. (2016). Needed interventions to reduce racial/ethnic disparities in health. Journal of health politics, policy and law, 41(4), 627-651.
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