Dorothy Roberts: What’s Race Got to Do with Medicine?

Dorothy Roberts: What’s Race Got to Do with Medicine?

TED Radio Hour
National Public Radio

Guy Raz, Host

About Dorothy Roberts’ TED Talk

Doctors often take a patient’s race into account when making a diagnosis—or ruling one out. Professor Dorothy Roberts says this practice is both outdated and dangerous.

About Dorothy Roberts

Dorothy Roberts is a social justice advocate and law professor at the University of Pennsylvania. She directs the program on Race, Science, and Society in the Center for Africana Studies. Roberts is the author of Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century.

So sometimes getting better results in medicine isn’t just about developing new technology or drugs. Sometimes getting better results is about looking at patients in a different way.

DOROTHY ROBERTS: Yes, exactly.

RAZ: This is Dorothy Roberts.

ROBERTS: Professor of Africana studies and law and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania.

RAZ: About 15 years ago, Dorothy had an experience when she was pregnant with her fourth child.

ROBERTS: I was 44 years old when I had him, and I was considered to be a high-risk, high-maternal age.

RAZ: So her doctor had her sign up for a clinical trial.

ROBERTS: That involved a genetic test.

RAZ: And one of the first questions she was asked was about her race.

ROBERTS: They just asked me to check the box. And my question is, why use race?

RAZ: In other words, why use race when it doesn’t tell us anything about our genes? Here’s Dorothy Roberts on the TED stage…

Listen to the entire interview here. Download the interview (00:09:27) here. Read the transcript here.

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