To distinguish between people of different races is, by definition, to be racist. OK, so maybe race doesn’t actually exist, there’s just this spectrum of genetic spread and all that but still – to regard black skin as being different from white is to be racist.
The question then becomes when is it correct to be racist and when is it not? Think about the allied point about sexism. To differentiate between men and women when talking about cooking we regard as undesirable. Indeed there’s significant social pressure that men should be doing more of it so as to lessen the differentiation already done. OK. But to not distinguish between men and women when making babies is going to leave us with a whole heap of problems. There are times when to be sexist – defined as differentiating between men and women – is not just sensible but necessary.
At which point this is evidence of not enough racism, not of too much:
Medical training such as watching for patients going blue ‘inherently racist’, medical school says
Doctor warns that ‘we are teaching students how to recognise a life-or-death clinical sign largely in white people’
The point being that when lungs and heart aren’t working all that well not enough oxygen gets into the blood. That lovely pink colour of gammons like myself comes from the oxygen hitting the iron in our blood and the absence produces instead a blue colour in the extremities like fingers. So, look at white folk, if their fingers are blue, think about heart and lung problems. Cool, we’ve a diagnostic tool.
The complaint being made here is that this doesn’t work so well in people enjoying a greater level of melanin in their skins. That’s not cool and deprives of a useful diagnostic tool. So, sure, we’d like to do something about it. But what?
Well, the first thing we’ve got to do now is to differentiate between black and white in our use of a diagnostic tool. Or even to design different diagnostic tools for the same condition in two people of different races. That is, we’ve got to deliberately go all out to be racist.
What we have here is an absence, or at least a paucity, of effective racism, not an excess.
The University of Bristol Medical School has announced that it is pioneering anti-racist methods of teaching its students in a move backed by the General Medical Council (GMC).
Many of the reforms will be practical measures, such as emphasising the diversity of skin tones among patients and therefore the range of potential visual indicators of ill-health.
Quite so. In this realm them black folks is different and we must grasp that racial difference and emphasise it. This is one of those times when we must indeed be racist.
Dr Joseph Hartland, helping to lead the changes at the University of Bristol Medical School, told the BBC: Historically, medical education was designed and written by white middle-class men, and so there is an inherent racism in medicine that means it exists to serve white patients above all others.
Not so much really. Historically the patient body has been near entirely pinkish and gammon. Therefore doctors were trained to treat what might present. In these past few decades – and yes, it is very recent that significant portions of the population were not gammon – this has changed. We now need to be more racist in our examination of symptoms.
Eva Larkai, who leads the black and minority ethnic medical student group at the school, said the changes would ultimately help patients have better treatment.
She added: If the new generation of doctors are not being equipped to adequately care for the multi-ethnic population we see here in the UK and across the world, we are doing the patients a disservice.
Entirely so. This is why we must embed more racism, not less, into our medical training system. Because there are times when differentiating between people on the basis of race is necessary, just and righteous. This is what the doctors themselves are saying, to identify possible congestive heart failure we must examine darker people differently from lighter. That’s calling for more racism, not less. So, let’s get on with it then.