Medical racism is defined as the systematic and widespread racism against people of color within the medical system. For Black Americans, racism in the field of medicine looks like disparities in healthcare coverage, healthcare workers holding biases against BIPOC patients, misdiagnoses, perceived ability to withstand higher levels of pain, less healthy outcomes and shorter life spans.
It is also largely rooted in experimentation on non-consenting Black bodies in the name of advancing science or for the greater good. The history of Black bodies being utilized as guinea pigs in American medicine dates back to slavery and has persisted throughout the generations. Research labs, pharmaceutical companies and other players in the field of medicine have amassed billions of dollars at the expense of Black bodies functioning as test subjects. A large contributing factor to the dehumanization of Black folks in this country is based on how cavalier scientists, researchers and medical doctors have been, historically, when it comes to either trying things out, stealing genetic information, ignoring the severity of a condition, or flat-out giving Black people inaccurate information as it pertains to our physical well-being.
One of the biggest examples of a medical misfortune endured by a Black patient, and subsequently used as a cash cow for a biotechnology company, is the story of Henrietta Lacks, a Black mother of five who died from cervical cancer in 1951, and would later have her cells exploited by Thermo Fisher Scientific (TFS), a biotech company that has made significant medical advancements, and millions of dollars off of Ms. Lacks' cells without the consent of her family or estate.
Currently the Lacks family is suing TFS for the compensation they should have received decades ago. It is only fair that they get a fair share of the revenue from the profits that have come from using Henrietta's cells!