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Why African American's Distrust Medical Professionals

Updated: Feb 8, 2023

After reading this, you can't blame them.

Did you know that there are still racial biases in medicine? How did we get here? How did it start?

Centuries ago, it was believed that black people had inferior bodies and were naturally submissive. This thinking was used to justify the slave trade.

Medical Experiments Performed on Unknowing Black People

During the early 20th century, black people were used unwittingly in medical experiments.

In 1932, the U.S. government recruited 600 impoverished black men for “free blood test; free treatment.” Except this was a study on syphilis. The 400 men who had syphilis were never treated and were only there for their death to be observed. They were never told this would be the case and neither were their families. This study went on until 1972 when it was finally exposed and shut down. That’s pretty recent.

This was not the first or last experiment that was done on black bodies. There were surgeries performed without anesthesia, cells taken without consent to create vaccines and treatments, and so much more.

Distrust of Medical Professionals

These racist and discriminatory practices have lead to distrust of medical professionals by the black community. According to the Common Wealth Fund, 7 out of 10 blacks say they’re unfairly treated by the healthcare system and 55% say they distrust it.

Racist Healthcare Systems

In 2019, a program used to manage healthcare for 200 million people in America was found to systematically discriminate against black people. According to the Journal of Science, anyone who identified as black was given lower risk scores by the computer compared to their white counterparts which lead to fewer recommendations for treatment for blacks.

The Actions Continue Despite the Truth

Even though research has since dispelled all myths about black people, it is still being taught in medical school that blacks have low lung capacity, that their skin is thicker, and that they have a higher capacity for pain. Not to mention, all of the healthcare programs that systematically discriminate against black people.


Resources: World Economic Forum, Common Wealth Fund, Journal of Science

This page contains general medical information. Medical knowledge and practice can change rapidly. Therefore, this page should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.

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