That experience also drove me to question how racism benefits me as a white physician. Throughout my education, I could succeed academically without people questioning whether my accomplishments were attributable to affirmative action or my own abilities. During college and medical school, I never struggled to find professors and academic role models who shared my race.
I am reminded daily that my medical knowledge is based on the discoveries made by people who looked like me without being reminded that some of the most painful discoveries were made through inhumane and nonconsensual experimentation on people of color. When I walk into an exam room with a person of color, patients invariably assume I am the doctor in charge, even if the person of color is my attending. If I respond to a call for medical assistance on an airplane, people will assume I am really a physician because of my race.
Even if I forget my identification badge, I can walk into the hospital and know that security guards will probably not stop me because of the color of my skin. When I travel to and from the hospital late at night as required by my job, I do not fear that I will be stopped, delayed, unjustly detained, inappropriately touched, injured, or killed by the police because of my race.
I can attend most professional meetings confident that I will be surrounded by physicians who look like me, and that we will likely have mutual acquaintances who also share our race. I can speak my native language in my own dialect in professional settings without being viewed as uneducated or out-of-place.
I know that I can leave the impoverished area where I work without being accused of abandoning my community. I can name racism in my professional workspace and not be accused of being angry, potentially violent, or excessively emotional. In a society that sees casual racism among its most powerful leaders, white people can ignore the power of racism all around, or they can choose to acknowledge and confront it.
Our medical system is structured to individually and systemically favor white physicians and patients in ways that white people are trained to ignore.
Most white doctors do not think race affects them or their clinical decisions and are taught to ignore their own racial privilege in favor of a meritocratic social myth. However, multiple studies reinforce the existence of racial bias among physicians and its negative implications for patient care.
Before I Forget…. Trump revealed their true nature. Just listen. Privilege is often seen as special rights granted to individuals either on behalf of merit or through unwarranted means. What does all this mean for the project of ending racism? Majority of white people often refuse to believe that they have more privileges, or benefits, compared to people of color. The author received no direct funding for this research.
Failure to confront racism within the medical profession has implications for the patients we serve: infants of color continue to die at higher rates, children of color get less needed care, and adults of color receive poorer quality care than their white counterparts, and the trends are not improving. Although systems of racial oppression take generations to dismantle, we must begin with an awareness of the problem. As I reflect on that bullet-riddled body and the callousness with which my colleagues mocked the memory of his life, I think of the important work we have left to do.
Harold Bailey Jr. But merely mentioning white privilege seems to have struck a nerve, with much of the criticism coming from out of town.
The term is used, most often by those who lean left politically, to reflect what they identify as a wide range of societal advantages white people knowingly or unknowingly enjoy. The classic example of unequal treatment is the ability to easily hail a cab, but there are more serious ones, such as easier interactions with the police. The term tends to make some white people bristle because they interpret it to mean that their success is unearned or that they benefit from racism. Bari Reiner, 72, told The Associated Press that Westport welcomes anyone who can afford to live there.
Being male also enables me to express my opinions as though they were fact -- my opinions in certain spaces are generally not questioned, or if they are, it is not assumed that I am wrong. Those are simple examples, but they illustrate the point.
Advantages can be summed up in a way that can generate a net advantage or disadvantage in certain spaces. Thinking in this way forces me to understand what my advantages can, in fact, buy. No one wants to give up privileges. The entire idea of a privilege is based on possessing a special status that is somehow deserved. Privileges feel good. Think about all of your privileges.
Do you want to give them up? Does giving them up make you feel like you have somehow done someone a favor? It might, because generally privileges are given and taken by someone else.
They are earned, and are seldom bad things to have. Now try shifting your language to that of advantages. If I answer for myself, I can readily see that not all advantages are inherently problematic on their face. As a tall person I am advantaged in some spaces e. Yet if one looks under the surface, one can see that in both circumstances my dis advantage is predicated on design choices that are outside of my control. They are systemic. It is also silly to say that I am tall privileged. What about a wealthy high school student who scored well on their SAT?
My schools are better, and I had access to tutoring. Moreover, some of that wealth is a result of oppressing people of color by historically denying them the ability to buy property in nicer areas , thus limiting their capacity to build and transmit wealth to their children.
Those advantages are unearned, yet I still benefit from them. The above example is more complex than my innocuous example about my height, but both have the same structure. They both require situating an advantage in a larger sociocultural context. While this is possible by using privilege, doing so can get clunky very quickly, and can shut down conversations before they become meaningful.
Unpacking systematically unfair systems through the language of advantage affords nuance. The poor white farmer lacks economic advantage but still possesses white advantage, and he can thus interact with law enforcement without fear. The wealthy black businessperson lacks racial advantage but can mitigate some of the negative effects of that through the strategic use of wealth.
The difference? The white farmer will always be white.