Brown Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice

Race, Medicine, and Social Justice

Treating Health Inequities from Slavery to the Genomic Age, 2013Treating Health Inequities from Slavery to the Genomic Age, 2013

Health inequality, especially racial inequality in health, has been a topic of concern in medicine since the 1990s.  While there is some acknowledgement of how racism operates in the clinical context, the racialization of the “evidence” that guides clinical practice has been largely ignored.  The Race, Medicine, and Social Justice Working Group of the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice has been meeting regularly for three years to probe knowledge production and racism in medicine.  The group identified and discussed many sites of racism in medicine over the last year: mental health for the under-insured; genetics, race, and health; black women’s maternity care; and algorithmic-based racism.  We also heard from medical students about the work they are doing to address racism in the medical curriculum.

During the 2018-2019 academic year, the working Group invited two outside speakers who gave public lectures and met with our group to discuss their books.  Sociologist Jenny Reardon from University of California Santa Cruz drew on her new book The Postgenomic Condition: Ethics, Justice, Knowledge After the Genome to analyze the on-going controversy featured in the New York Times in March 2018 about genetic explanations for racial differences in disease and, most disturbingly, in intelligence.  In a lecture to a full auditorium, Professor Khiara Bridges from Boston University School of Law and Department of Anthropology (now University of California, Berkeley) examined pathologizing narratives for racial disparities in disease, focusing on the high death rate for Black women in childbirth.  Supported by several units at the University, Professor Bridges’ talk “Theorizing Racism in Healthcare” addressed the many dimensions of racism as it manifests in the healthcare infrastructure, from providers to the production of “evidence.”


Past events include:

Current and past affiliated staff, researchers, and fellows include:


Lundy Braun
Race, Medicine, and Social Justice Research Cluster Faculty Fellow

Royce Family Professor in Teaching Excellence, Professor of Medical Science and Africana Studies, Brown University

Nic John Ramos '17-'19
Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Race and Medicine