Agriculture Linked to DNA Changes in Ancient Europe

Posted in Articles, Europe, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2015-11-24 16:26Z by Steven

Agriculture Linked to DNA Changes in Ancient Europe

The New York Times

Carl Zimmer

The agricultural revolution was one of the most profound events in human history, leading to the rise of modern civilization. Now, in the first study of its kind, an international team of scientists has found that after agriculture arrived in Europe 8,500 years ago, people’s DNA underwent widespread changes, altering their height, digestion, immune system and skin color.

Researchers had found indirect clues of some of these alterations by studying the genomes of living Europeans. But the new study, they said, makes it possible to see the changes as they occurred over thousands of years.

“For decades we’ve been trying to figure out what happened in the past,” said Rasmus Nielsen, a geneticist at the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved in the new study. “And now we have a time machine.”

…Dr. Reich and his colleagues also tracked changes in the color of European skin.

The original hunter-gatherers, descendants of people who had come from Africa, had dark skin as recently as 9,000 years ago. Farmers arriving from Anatolia were lighter, and this trait spread through Europe. Later, a new gene variant emerged that lightened European skin even more.

Why? Scientists have long thought that light skin helped capture more vitamin D in sunlight at high latitudes. But early hunter-gatherers managed well with dark skin. Dr. Reich suggests that they got enough vitamin D in the meat they caught.

He hypothesizes that it was the shift to agriculture, which reduced the intake of vitamin D, that may have triggered a change in skin color…

Read the entire article here.

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Medicalizing Racism

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science on 2015-11-22 20:18Z by Steven

Medicalizing Racism

Fall 2014, Volume 13, Number 4
pages 24-29
DOI: 10.1177/1536504214558213

James M. Thomas, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
University of Mississippi

Cassandra Conlin

Sociologist James M. Thomas (JT) examines how public and scientific accounts of racism draw upon medical and psychological models, and how this contributes to our understandings of racism as a medical, rather than social, problem.

In June of 2013, Riley Cooper, a wide receiver for the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, was caught on video at a Kenny Chesney concert shouting, “I will jump that fence and fight every nigger in here, bro!” After a massive public uproar about the scene, Cooper, who is white, released a statement announcing that he would speak with “a variety of professionals” in order to ”help me better understand how I could have done something that was so offensive, and how I can start the healing process for everyone.” His team excused Cooper from activities so that he could get expert help to “understand how his words hurt so many.”

It was hardly the first time a high-profile figure sought professional counseling after being associated with an act of public racism. In 2006, while performing at a West Hollywood comedy club, Michael Richards, best known as Kramer from the hit television series Seinfeld, lashed out at hecklers, referring to them as “niggers.” Afterward, Richards’ publicist quickly issued a statement announcing that his client would seek psychiatric help. Paula Deen, Mel Gibson, and John Rocker also pledged publicly to seek treatment for their racism—reflecting a growing tendency to frame racist acts as a mental health issue.

Cassandra Conlin

How did racism come to be seen as psychopathological, and how might that understanding influence efforts to combat racism? With that question in mind, I examined mainstream print media, and conference proceedings, presidential addresses, and debates within the American Psychiatric Association from the period immediately following World War II through the present. I also analyzed public speeches by civil rights activists from the late 1950s through the early 1970s

Over time, this research shows, experts expressed growing concern about the psychopathological consequences of racism on victims, and the effects of being racist—a mental health discourse that is transforming our understanding of the nature and causes of racism. In this medicalized model, new protocols focus on treating those who suffer from the condition of racism. It is an understanding that reflects the “new racism” of the post-civil rights era

Read (for free for a limited time) the article here.

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Who Cares for Health Care?

Posted in Health/Medicine/Genetics, Live Events, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2015-11-18 14:52Z by Steven

Who Cares for Health Care?

Breaking Through: TEDMED 2015
Palm Springs, California
2015-11-18 through 2015-11-20

Dorothy E. Roberts, George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology and the Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights
University of Pennsylvania

Physician, heal thyself … and while you’re at it, how about healing your field? Every cure starts with accurate diagnosis, so this series of cautionary tales reveals surprising perspectives and under-appreciated challenges facing our health care system. Stories include a renowned patient advocate’s struggle to balance patient empowerment with patient safety; a quality care pioneer’s determination to define empathy as a business asset; a civil rights sociologist’s mission to combat subtle racism within medicine; and a senior economist’s ranking of health as an existential value.

Global scholar, University of Pennsylvania civil rights sociologist, and law professor Dorothy Roberts will expose the myths of race-based medicine.

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Indian Blood: HIV and Colonial Trauma in San Francisco’s Two-Spirit Community

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, Gay & Lesbian, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2015-11-17 21:27Z by Steven

Indian Blood: HIV and Colonial Trauma in San Francisco’s Two-Spirit Community

University of Washington Press
June 2016
176 pages
1 bandw illus, 2 tables
6 x 9 in
Paperback ISBN: 9780295998503
Hardcover ISBN: 9780295998077

Andrew J. Jolivette, Professor and chair of American Indian studies
San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California

The first book to examine the correlation between mixed-race identity and HIV/AIDS among Native American gay men and transgendered people, Indian Blood provides an analysis of the emerging and often contested LGBTQtwo-spirit” identification as it relates to public health and mixed-race identity.

Prior to contact with European settlers, most Native American tribes held their two-spirit members in high esteem, even considering them spiritually advanced. However, after contact – and religious conversion – attitudes changed and social and cultural support networks were ruptured. This discrimination led to a breakdown in traditional values, beliefs, and practices, which in turn pushed many two-spirit members to participate in high-risk behaviors. The result is a disproportionate number of two-spirit members who currently test positive for HIV.

Using surveys, focus groups, and community discussions to examine the experiences of HIV-positive members of San Francisco’s two-spirit community, Indian Blood provides an innovative approach to understanding how colonization continues to affect American Indian communities and opens a series of crucial dialogues in the fields of Native American studies, public health, queer studies, and critical mixed-race studies.

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The Biobank as Political Artifact: The Struggle over Race in Categorizing Genetic Difference

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2015-11-09 01:43Z by Steven

The Biobank as Political Artifact: The Struggle over Race in Categorizing Genetic Difference

The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Volume 661, Number 1, September 2015
pages 143-159
DOI: 10.1177/0002716215591141

Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, Senior Research Scholar, Pediatrics
Center for Biomedical Ethics
Stanford University

This article discusses the institutional practices of classifying and creating taxonomies of difference within biobanks (repositories that store a broad range of biological materials, including DNA) and the technical and sociopolitical priorities that ultimately create biobanks. I argue that biobanks operate as political artifacts and that the social circumstances surrounding the development and use of biobanks determine what counts as meaningful difference within human genetic research. The massive collection of human DNA, blood, and tissues is critical to genomic medicine and the development and governance of biobanks structure knowledge that will ultimately bear on how population differences are interpreted and health disparities are framed. Careful consideration of how to avoid the conflation of concepts of race, ethnicity, and nationality with biological differences is necessary to identify effective interventions that will bear positively on health.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Author Meets Reader: Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics and Big Business Recreate Race in the Twenty-First Century by Dorothy Roberts

Posted in Health/Medicine/Genetics, Live Events, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2015-11-03 00:55Z by Steven

Author Meets Reader: Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics and Big Business Recreate Race in the Twenty-First Century by Dorothy Roberts

University of California, Irvine
School of Law
401 E. Peltason Drive
Irvine, California
Room 3500
Monday, 2015-11-02, 18:30 PST (Local Time)

Sponsored by the Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy and the Center on Law, Equality and Race’s Perspectives, this special Author Meets Reader event will feature author Dorothy Roberts speaking about her book

For more information, click here.

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The Spectacle of the Races: Scientists, Institutions, and the Race Questions in Brazil, 1870-1930 (review)

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Social Science on 2015-10-29 22:10Z by Steven

The Spectacle of the Races: Scientists, Institutions, and the Race Questions in Brazil, 1870-1930 (review)

Bulletin of the History of Medicine
Volume 75, Number 1, Spring 2001
pages 152-153
DOI: 10.1353/bhm.2001.0014

J. D. Goodyear, Senior Lecturer and Associate Director, Public Health Studies Program
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland

Lilia Moritz Schwarcz. The Spectacle of the Races: Scientists, Institutions, and the Race Questions in Brazil, 1870-1930. Translated by Leland Guyer. Originally published as O espetáculo das raças: Cientistas, instituições e questão racial no Brasil, 1870-1930 (Brazil: Companhia das Letras, 1993). New York: Hill and Wang, 1999. ix + 355 pp. Ill. $35.00.

Brazil, like the United States, is an immigrant nation with an extensive history of slavery: in more than three hundred years of slave trading, Brazil received an estimated 3.5 million Africans. But unlike the United States, in Brazil slavery permeated all of the cities as well as the many distinctive regions. And with slavery came widespread miscegenation — a phenomenon that has shaped not only the demography of modern Brazil but also its intellectual history and cultural identity.

As the nineteenth century unfolded, Brazil shed its status as a Portuguese colony and educated elites sought to adopt notions of progress that were derived from ideas of the Enlightenment and the emerging power of science. Toward the end of the century, the thought of Darwin, Spencer, and the positivists lay at the core of debates about race and Brazil’s potential to achieve order and progress. Lilia Moritz Schwarcz takes up the challenge of examining the social history of racial ideas held by a range of Brazilian “shadowy men of science” (p. 16). In so doing she offers us a remarkable playbill of the extensive cast of characters and the plots that shaped the intellectual discourse among elites in Brazil for more than six decades.

Schwarcz focuses on the naturalists, historians, legal theorists, and physicians who sought to rationalize Brazilian social realities in light of nineteenth-century European thought. These are her “shadowy men” who engaged in defining the role of race in Brazilian identity. As a group, they were well educated and eager to participate in the debates begun in Europe and fueled by Darwinism and positivism. Other scholars who have visited this topic paint with much broader strokes. A great strength of this book is that Schwarcz teases apart the positions of the various players, examining the nuances that distinguish different lines of race thought. She has made a conscious effort to articulate the original contributions of Brazilians to the social construction of race that, by her estimate, occurred by the turn of the century. Another strength lies in her effort to take a comprehensive look at educated elites writing in different genres. Rather than isolating a single set of professionals, or concentrating on elites located in a single region of the country, she takes up the challenging task of reviewing extensive published materials across several disciplines. Through content analysis of journal articles, as well as close reading of editorials, theses, and treatises, she isolates the pivotal role of race in defining Brazil before and after emancipation (1888).

The materials used by Schwarcz are exceptionally rich. Whether analyzing natural history museums or institutes of history and geography, she can compare institutions founded in different cities to discern regional approaches to the meaning of miscegenation for Brazil. In her comparative profiles of the Goeldi Museum in Belém and the (new) National Museum in Rio, she reviews research efforts into physical anthropology as they relate to the perceived negative impact of Amerindians and Afro-Brazilians on the country’s ability to achieve sociocultural progress. She continues in the same style with her comparison of Brazil’s two law schools (at São Paulo and Recife) and two medical schools (at Bahia and Rio). She captures the individual approaches of different institutions through in-depth analyses of their respective journals and other publications that document the scholarly output each institution encouraged and found deserving. The jurists tended to view themselves as “masters in the process of civilization” (p. 233), and they repeatedly addressed issues of race and race-mixing as matters of penal law, criminal anthropology, and social policy. At the two medical schools, the physicians and medical students wrote regularly about race…

Read or purchase the article here.

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Cook: Race and the practice of medicine

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-10-25 20:50Z by Steven

Cook: Race and the practice of medicine

The Casper Star Tribune
Casper, Wyoming

Edith Cook

Edith Cook/Perspective

We now know once and for all that race is not a biological phenomenon but a social construct. The Human Genome Project, completed in 2000, established that, genetically, all of us human beings are more than 99.9 percent the same. When the project was completed, geneticist Greg Venter stated that the accomplishment illustrates that “the concept of race has no genetic or scientific basis.”

Astoundingly, racial and ethnic categories have appeared in the patents of gene-related biomedical patents. Drug firms increasingly target “ethnic niche markets” for drug development, promotion, and sale. That’s partly because the National Institute of Health Revitalization Act of 1993 mandates the use of census racial categories. The Food and Drug Modernization Act of 1997 also strongly encourages these outdated practices. The complexities of patent laws add to the problem.

These facts are thoroughly examined in Jonathan Kahn’sRace in a Bottle.” (He means pill bottle.) Kahn begins with “the story of BiDil.” In the 1980s, BiDil was a drug for everyone; it became racialized “primarily in response to an FDA ruling that placed in jeopardy the value of its owner’s original nonracial patent.”

Soon the commercial aspect of promoting the drug became center stage. Often African Americans are held to white norms, yet health disparities would be more aptly compared to other underserved groups, such as recent immigrants…

Read the entire article here.

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Race, Class, and Gender in the United States: An Integrated Study

Posted in Anthologies, Asian Diaspora, Books, Census/Demographics, Economics, Gay & Lesbian, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Latino Studies, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Politics/Public Policy, Slavery, Social Science, United States, Women on 2015-10-24 18:38Z by Steven

Race, Class, and Gender in the United States: An Integrated Study

Ninth Edition
732 pages
Paper Text ISBN-10: 1-4292-4217-5; ISBN-13: 978-1-4292-4217-2

Paula S. Rothenberg, Senior Fellow; The Murphy Institute, City University of New York
Professor Emerita; William Patterson University of New Jersey

Like no other text, this best-selling anthology effectively introduces students to the complexity of race, class, gender, and sexuality in the United States and illustrates how these categories operate and interact in society. The combination of thoughtfully selected readings, deftly written introductions, and careful organization make Race, Class, and Gender in the United States, Ninth Edition, the most engaging and balanced presentation of these issues available today.

In addition to including scholarly selections from authors like Beverly Tatum, Barbara Ehrenreich, Annette Lareau, and Jonathan Kozol, Rothenberg includes historical documents like the Three-Fifths Compromise, firsthand narrative accounts of how these issues have affected the lives of individuals, and popular press pieces reporting on discrimination in everyday life.

This edition includes 28 new selections considering such relevant topics as the citizenship and immigration, transgender identity, the 2010 census, multiracial identity, the 99% and the occupy movement, the tragic story of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi, South Asian Identity post 9/11, multiracial identity, disability, sexual harassment in the teenage years, and much more.

Table of Contents *Articles new or revised for this edition

    • 1 Racial Formations / Michael Omi and Howard Winant
    • 2 The Ethics of Living Jim Crow: An Autobiographical Sketch / Richard Wright
    • 3 Constructing Race, Creating White Privilege / Pem Davidson Buck
    • 4 How Jews Became White Folks / Karen Brodkin
    • 5 “Night to His Day”: The Social Construction of Gender / Judith Lorber
    • 6 The Social Construction of Sexuality / Ruth Hubbard
    • 7 The Invention of Heterosexuality / Jonathan Ned Katz
    • 8 Masculinity as Homophobia / Michael S. Kimmel
    • 9 Disability and the Justification of Inequality in American History / Douglas C. Baynton
    • 10 Deconstructing the Underclass / Herbert Gans
    • 11 Domination and Subordination / Jean Baker Miller
    • Suggestions for Further Reading
    • 1 Defining Racism: “Can We Talk?” / Beverly Daniel Tatum
    • 2 Color-Blind Racism / Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
    • 3 Smells Like Racism / Rita Chaudhry Sethi
    • 4 Oppression / Marilyn Frye
    • 5 Patriarchy / Allan G. Johnson
    • 6 Homophobia as a Weapon of Sexism / Suzanne Pharr
    • *7 The 10 Percent Problem / Kate Clinton
    • 8 White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack / Peggy McIntosh
    • *9 Unequal Childhoods: Race, Class, and Family Life / Annette Lareau
    • *10 Class in America—2012 / Gregory Mantsios
  • Part III Complicating Questions of Identity: Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration
    • 1 A Nation of None and All of the Above / Sam Roberts
    • 2 A New Century: Immigration and the US / MPI Staff, updated by Kevin Jernegan
    • *3 Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of America / Mae Ngai
    • 4 Los Intersticios: Recasting Moving Selves / Evelyn Alsultany
    • *5 For many Latinos, Racial Identity Is More Culture than Color / Mireya Navarro
    • *6 Testimony / Sonny Singh
    • 7 Asian American? / Sonia Shah
    • 8 The Myth of the Model Minority / Noy Thrupkaew
    • 9 Personal Voices: Facing Up to Race / Carrie Ching
    • Suggestions for Further Readings
    • 1 The Problem: Discrimination / U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
    • 2 Abercrombie Settles Class-Action Suit
    • 3 Apparel Factory Workers Were Cheated, State Says / Steven Greenhouse
    • 4 Women in the State Police: Trouble in the Ranks / Jonathan Schuppe
    • *5 Why Transgender Identification Matters / Rebecca Juro
    • 6 Where “English Only” Falls Short / Stacy A. Teicher
    • 7 Blacks vs. Latinos at Work / Miriam Jordan
    • 8 Manhattan Store Owner Accused of Underpaying and Sexually Harassing Workers / Steven Greenhouse
    • 9 Muslim-American Running Back off the Team at New Mexico State / Matthew Rothschild
    • 10 Tennessee Judge Tells Immigrant Mothers: Learn English or Else / Ellen Barry
    • *11 Tucson’s Ousted Mexican-American Studies Director Speaks: The Fight’s Not Over / Julianne Hing
    • 12 My Black Skin Makes My White Coat Vanish / Mana Lumumba-Kasongo
    • 13 The Segregated Classrooms of a Proudly Diverse School / Jeffrey Gettleman
    • 14 Race and Family Income of Students Influence Guidance Counselors’ Advice, Study Finds / Eric Hoover
    • 15 College Choices Are Limited for Students from Needy Families, Report Says / Stephen Burd
    • 16 Wealthy Often Win the Race for Merit-Based College Aid / Jay Mathews
    • 17 On L.I., Raid Stirs Dispute over Influx of Immigrants / Bruce Lambert
    • 18 More Blacks Live with Pollution / Associated Press
    • *19 National Study Finds Widespread Sexual Harassment of Students in Grades 7-12 / Jenny Anderson
    • Suggestions for Further Reading
    • *1 Imagine a Country—2012 / Holly Sklar
    • *2 Dr King Weeps from His Grave / Cornel West
    • *3 Rich People Create Jobs! And Five Other Myths That Must Die for our Economy to Live / Kevin Drum
    • *4 It’s Official: The Rich Got Richer: Top Earners Doubled Share of Nation’s Income, Study Finds / Robert Pear
    • *5 Study Finds Big Spike in the Poorest in the U.S. / Sabrina Tavernise
    • *6 The Making of the American 99% and the Collapse of the Middle Class / Barbara Ehrenreich and John Ehrenreich
    • *7 Wealth Gaps Rise to Record Highs Between Whites, Blacks, Hispanics Twenty-to-One: Executive Summary / Rakesh Kochhar, Richard Fry, and Paul Taylor
    • 8 The Economic Reality of Being Asian American / Meizhu Lui and others
    • 9 The Economic Reality of Being Latino/a in the U.S. / Meizhu Lui and others
    • *10 Hispanic Children in Poverty Exceed Whites / Sabrina Tavernise
    • *11 Gender Gap on Wages is Slow to Close / Motoko Rich
    • 12 Women Losing Ground / Ruth Conniff
    • 13 Lilly’s Big Day / Gail Collins
    • 14 “Savage Inequalities” Revisited / Bob Feldman
    • 15 Cause of Death: Inequality / Alejandro Reuss
    • *16 Undocumented Immigrants Find Paths to College, Careers / Gosnia Wozniacka
    • 17 Immigration’s Aftermath / Alejandro Portes
    • *18 Inequality Undermines Democracy / Eduardo Porter
    • Suggestions for Further Reading
    • 1 Civilize Them with a Stick / Mary Brave Bird (Crow Dog) with Richard Erdoes
    • 2 Then Came the War / Yuri Kochiyama
    • 3 Yellow / Frank Wu
    • 4 The Arab Woman and I / Mona Fayad
    • 5 Crossing the Border Without Losing Your Past / Oscar Casares
    • 6 The Event of Becoming / Jewelle L. Gomez
    • 7 This Person Doesn’t Sound White / Ziba Kashef
    • *8 In Strangers’ Glances at Family, Tensions Linger / Susan Saulny
    • 9 Family Ties and the Entanglements of Caste / Joseph Berger
    • 10 Pigskin, Patriarchy, and Pain / Don Sabo
    • 11 The Slave Side of Sunday / Dave Zirin
    • 12 He Defies You Still: The Memoirs of a Sissy / Tommi Avicolli
    • 13 Requiem for the Champ / June Jordan
    • *14 Against Bullying or On Loving Queer Kids / Richard Kim
    • 15 Before Spring Break, The Anorexic Challenge / Alex Williams
    • 16 The Case of Sharon Kowalski and Karen Thompson: Ableism, Heterosexism, and Sexism / Joan L. Griscom
    • *17 Misconceptions Regarding the Body / Jennifer Bartlett
    • 18 C. P. Ellis / Studs Terkel
    • Suggestions for Further Reading
    • 1 Indian Tribes: A Continuing Quest for Survival /U.S. Commission on Human Rights
    • 2 An Act for the Better Ordering and Governing of Negroes and Slaves, South Carolina, 1712
    • 3 The “Three-Fifths Compromise”: The U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 2
    • 4 An Act Prohibiting the Teaching of Slaves to Read
    • 5 Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions, Seneca Falls Convention, 1848
    • 6 The Antisuffragists: Selected Papers, 1852–1887
    • 7 People v. Hall, 1854
    • 8 Dred Scott v. Sandford, 1857
    • 9 The Emancipation Proclamation / Abraham Lincoln
    • 10 United States Constitution: Thirteenth (1865), Fourteenth (1868), and Fifteenth (1870) Amendments
    • 11 The Black Codes / W. E. B. Du Bois
    • 12 Bradwell v. Illinois, 1873
    • 13 Minor v. Happersett, 1875
    • 14 California Constitution, 1876
    • 15 Elk v. Wilkins, November 3, 1884
    • 16 Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896
    • 17 United States Constitution: Nineteenth Amendment (1920)
    • 18 Korematsu v. United States, 1944
    • 19 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 1954
    • 20 Roe v. Wade, 1973
    • 21 The Equal Rights Amendment (Defeated)
    • 22 Lawrence et al. v. Texas, 2003
    • *23 Equal Protection Indeed / The Economist
    • *24 Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution / Linda Hirshman
    • Suggestions for Further Reading
    • 1 Self-Fulfilling Stereotypes / Mark Snyder
    • 2 Anti-Gay Stereotype / Richard D. Mohr
    • 3 White Lies / Maurice Berger
    • 4 Am I Thin Enough Yet? / Sharlene Hesse-Biber
    • 5 Advertising at the Edge of the Apocalypse / Sut Jhally
    • 6 The Plutocratic Culture: Institutions, Values, and Ideologies / Michael Parenti
    • 7 Media Magic: Making Class Invisible / Gregory Mantsios
    • 8 Still Separate, Still Unequal: America’s Educational Apartheid / Jonathan Kozol
    • 9 Masked Racism: Reflections on the Prison Industrial Complex / Angela Davis
    • Suggestions for Further Reading
    • 1 Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference / Audre Lorde
    • 2 Feminism: A Transformational Politic / bell hooks
    • 3 A New Vision of Masculinity / Cooper Thompson
    • 4 Interrupting the Cycle of Oppression: The Role of Allies as Agents of Change / Andrea Ayvazian
    • 5 Rethinking Volunteerism in America / Gavin Leonard
    • *6 The Most Important Thing in the World / Naomi Klein
    • *7 Beyond Elections: People Power / Mark Bittman
    • *8 Demand the Impossible / Matthew Rothschild
    • Suggestions for Further Reading
  • Index
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The Racial Discrimination Embedded in Modern Medicine

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, United States on 2015-10-23 00:16Z by Steven

The Racial Discrimination Embedded in Modern Medicine


Lindsey Konkel

Minutes separated Are’Yana Hill from death as she struggled to breathe in the hallway of her San Francisco high school. The 18-year-old had lived with asthma attacks since before she could talk, and on that day, in April 2014, she could not speak. She thrust the rescue inhaler she carried in her backpack between her lips and inhaled. No relief. It felt, she thought, as if a charley horse had formed in her chest, knotting her lungs—each gasp trammeled by tightening airways. Her pursed lips turned gray, and all she could think about was her unborn baby. Hill, eight months pregnant, clutched her inhaler and prayed for paramedics to arrive.

“I take my medicine every day. I do everything the doctors tell me. I’ve tried every single thing, and I still have attacks,” Hill said a little more than a year later, as a nurse at San Francisco General Hospital’s Asthma Clinic placed a stethoscope on her back, between her shoulders. Her wheezing was barely audible. Each expiration sounded like the whistle of a distant tea kettle.

The attack in 2014 put Hill in the hospital. Asthma attack patients in the emergency room are often given oxygen and albuterol or other medications to relax the airways through a nebulizer mask. These treatments typically last a couple of hours, but Hill’s airways weren’t opening. She breathed through a nebulizer continuously for a week while the doctors closely monitored her pregnancy. Hill has brittle asthma—severe and unpredictable attacks that are poorly controlled, even with medication. Two weeks after she left the hospital, her son was born, healthy. Others are not as lucky…

…In the U.S. medical community, studying racial differences in disease susceptibility and response to treatments remains controversial. Race and ethnicity are social constructs that have been used to marginalize and exploit. Scientifically, race serves only as a crude proxy for what experts call genetic ancestry—the diverse signatures that arose in the genetic code as our ancestors traversed the globe.

Some experts worry that a focus on finding genetic differences obscures the need to address the socioeconomic disparities that lead to uneven access to health care in the U.S. “Focusing on inclusion in clinical trials is a great way to ignore the fact that large numbers of poor and minority people are getting less than optimal health care,” says Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society.

Yet because of its social baggage, race remains a powerful tool for studying patterns of disease and health, according to Sam Oh, an epidemiologist in Burchard’s laboratory at UCSF. A person’s self-identified race or ethnicity can offer important clues beyond genetic ancestry about important cultural, socioeconomic and environmental factors that may influence disease risk…

Read the entire article here.

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