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Harvard ‘Decolonizing Black Health’ conference looks to ‘shift away’ from Western medicine

This past weekend Harvard played host to the sixth annual Black Health Matters confab, the theme of which was “Decolonizing Black Health.”

Like equity and anti-racism, decolonization is a progressive-created fad which seeks to move away from Western ways of doing things.

In this case, it is to “’challenge and transform’ approaches to health care that may have been shaped by ‘colonialism, racism, and other forms of oppression,’” The Crimson reports.

According to Harvard Undergraduate Black Health Advocates’ Kristen Harriott, this would entail “shifting focus” to methods “which recognize the interconnectedness of all aspects of health” such as “social, cultural, environmental, maybe even spiritual factors.”

Efosa Enoma of We Got Us, a collective that “aims to educate and empower marginalized groups about Covid-19, the vaccine, and medical racism,” explained that blacks’ hesitancy towards the medical profession has its roots in slavery. She cited 19th century-physician J. Marion Sims’ experiments: “The founder of gynecology isn’t a white man, it’s Black women. We founded gynecology with our bodies, unfortunately, without our consent.”

The practical effect of decolonization is regression … all in the name expunging the white man’s influence. Students at South Africa’s University of Cape Town even said exactly that — that science should be “scratched” because it is a “product of racism.”

One UCT student defined “decolonization” as “doing away with [Western science] entirely and starting all over again to deal with how we respond to the environment and how we understand it.”

Durham University’s decolonization efforts include professors asking themselves if they are citing too many “white or male mathematicians.”

Scholars at Concordia University are working to decolonize light — “advancing other ways of knowing about light, science and physics.” Courses will be developed in conjunction with Native scholars to “elevate” indigenous knowledge … while “Eurocentric” science is “de-centered” and “scrutinized for its alleged past and present contributions to colonialism.”

Even basic English grammar isn’t safe; a professor at Mt. Royal University stopped using capitalization so as to “resist acknowledging the power structures that oppress.”

Read the full Crimson article.

MORE: White teachers: Stop ‘privileging’ Western ‘ways of knowing’ when teaching black history

IMAGE: dignidadrebelde / Flickr.com

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.