We are all pretty aware of the racism that exists in American health care, but it’s not always obvious how this and other types of bias continue to permeate every facet of the system. That’s why Kali Hobson, a pediatric psychiatrist and content creator, is using her platform to educate people on the nuances of medical racism from an insider’s perspective — and honestly, we needed this.
Medical institutions (and patients) can find it challenging to recognize and navigate the racist foundations on which a lot of modern medical knowledge was built. On her platform, Hobson discusses topics like ableism in hospitals, prejudices in diagnosing eating disorders, and the fact that Black children are more likely to be inappropriately restrained in hospitals.
Just this month, for example, the American Medical Association adopted a new policy discouraging doctors from relying so heavily on the body mass index, citing concerns that it’s a racist measurement that doesn’t take into account different body types. The fact that something as fundamental as BMI is being called out should be evidence of medical racism’s continued pervasiveness, and of all the work that has yet to be done.
Research on these topics is crucial to proving that bias is a problem, but seeing a physician address them in this way reaches a far broader audience. What feels really radical about her content is the fact that she approaches all of those topics with gentleness, humor and compassion, helping us imagine what a world in which doctors respect Black and brown patients could look like.
Ultimately, Hobson’s educational content comes down to dismantling one of the many ways in which racism is baked into American structures that affect our well-being. When so much knowledge that can harm our communities has been kept from us, reclaiming that knowledge becomes powerful.
In a recent video posted to her Instagram, for example, Hobson illustrates how doctors will often try harder to find the root of a white patient’s malaise, while making unsubstantiated assumptions about their Black patients that can prevent them from being accurately diagnosed.
Knowing this is a great starting point to begin demanding more. It can help Black and brown people advocate for themselves, ask more questions and refuse to accept care that is inferior to that given to their white counterparts. Thanks to creators like Hobson, we can start pushing the needle in the right direction.