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UC-Davis medical students protest racism in healthcare, fail to say what’s racist

Putting tape on your mouth and standing in silent protest can make it hard for outsiders to figure out what your grievances are.

Students at the University of California-Davis School of Medicine “held a peaceful protest … to end health disparity and promote culturally sensitive care,” The California Aggie reports this week (the protest was actually before winter break).

The students stood in solidarity with a national group, White Coats for Black Lives, that the previous year protested police brutality on the same day (National White Coat Die-Ins).

ucdavis-med-racist.California_Aggie.screenshotIt’s not at all clear from the story, however, what they consider racist and culturally insensitive in medical care:

The demonstration discussed the biases found not just with patients of color, but those in the LGBT community and various religions. …

“The event challenged our medical system and hospitals to address racial injustices and acknowledge the biases that go into taking care of patients of color,” [grad student Keyon] Mitchell said. “Because many of the aims were focused towards institutions, I think a lot of debate was sparked on our campus. A lot of the deans and administration came out in support.”


Another grad student, Lucy Ogbu-Nwobodo, said “discrimination in the health system has a big impact on patients” – not enough so to explain what that is:

“We as physicians have to take care of our patient’s health, but someone’s health encompasses more than just the clinical presentation that you see in a hospital,” Ogbu-Nwobodo said. “Racism and discrimination is a public health issue because if you are feeling unsafe or targeted in your environment, your mental and physical well-being is in jeopardy.”

This continues a long-running pattern in media coverage of campus protests: let the protesters make their claims without asking them for concrete examples, or if they do provide it, considering it worthwhile to tell readers what the protesters’ evidence is.

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