Seeing Patients

Seeing Patients: Unconscious Bias in Health Care is a novel written by Augustus A. White III, M.D. Dr. White grew up in the segregated southern city of Memphis, Tennessee before the Civil Rights Act was passed. This novel tells the story of this orthopedic surgeon’s life and explores his encounters with racism.

Dr. White, or “Gus” as he went by as an adolescent, struggled with injustice his whole life. Whether he was facing them on his own account or watching it happen to someone else, it was occurring. A specific example of this is when Gus was trying to narrow down what colleges he wanted to apply to. He had his criteria of sports offered, good pre-med programs, and the last, “how did it treat Negroes?” This was an absurd criterion, but there was another aspect to this: Did the college even accept students of African American decent? Some colleges did not accept any Black students, while others operated on a quota system. This is an obvious injustice because even though an African American student may be just as qualified, if not more than a White student, they most likely cannot enroll in a school because of race.

Issues with power are seen throughout this book, most of them overlapping with injustices. The front flap, however, sums up the issues that Dr. White views in healthcare. It states, “The key to getting the very best medical care: be a white, straight, middle-class male.” While working as a scrub nurse one summer before he attended medical school, Augustus, witnessed a situation where a Black woman was powerless. She came to get a cancerous tumor removed by a white surgeon. The surgeon was disrespectful towards her before the surgery. During surgery, the woman was hemorrhaging, but the surgeon kept cutting and eventually let her die. There was no dignity involved. Had this been an unconscious or maybe even conscious bias of that surgeon? If the patient were a straight white male would the surgeon had explored another option?

This book certainly reminds me of works such as John Lewis’ March and MLK Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” There are many things related to civil rights because Dr. White grew up during this time. Dr. White, in his own way was contributing to the fight for civil rights. He held a lot of the “first” positions. That is, he was the first black American to accomplish things. Dr. White wants his readers to know about the biases in healthcare, but also to know about prejudices and racism of the past and present. This work certainly inspires conversation related to injustice, power, and identity.

Yo Is This..?

Kristin: Welcome to this week’s episode of “Yo, Is This Racist?” podcast. Also, let’s welcome our guest, Pam! Pam brings us a personal story regarding one incident of her many encounters with racism.

Pam: Hey everyone. It’s good to be here.

Kristin: So, since no one knows Pam, I’ll give you a little bit of a background on her. Pam is a middle-aged, African American woman. She has worked in the local school system’s school nutrition services for 18 years. Let me clarify a little- by local I mean Rowan County, North Carolina.

Pam: Thanks, Kristin. Indeed, I have worked in school nutrition services since 2002. Since then, I haven’t worked in the same school. I’ve worked at high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools. The story I am going to share with you involves a middle school in the eastern part of the county. The geographic location is a key factor as well because it seems as if the county is segregated. The eastern and western parts of the county have a very low Black population.

Kristin: Ah, yes it does. I’ve definitely noticed that. Especially since my upbringing was in the eastern section. Well Pam, I’m ready to hear your story and I’m sure our listeners are, as well.

Pam: This particular incident happened in 2003. That day, as I said, I was working in a middle school. I was working on the serving line; you know, serving food to the students. I had just finished serving a class, so my line was empty. The other line still had students in it. So, I waved for some of those kids to come to my line. I mean, our job is fairly simple, get the kids through the line as fast as we can so they have time to eat. However, the boy that was paying attention to me and saw me wave, turned his head and ignored me.  His teacher, who was in line supervising her class, says to the back half of the line, “From Nicholas back, y’all go over to Miss Pam’s line.” Nicholas turns to his teacher and responds with, “I ain’t letting no n***er touch my food.”

Kristin: What?! That is insane. So what happened?

Pam: Well, the teacher immediately took him out of the line and he went to the principle’s office. I’m assuming he got suspended because I didn’t see him for a few days. The next week, I got a written apology from him explaining why what he did was wrong and that he was sorry.

Kristin: He should have been made to apologize to you face to face.

Pam: Yea, you’re right. But, it is what it is.

Kristin: So, this is not a question of whether or not this was racist. This was for sure racist. And this coming from a middle schooler. So, the boy was between 11 and 14. So why do you think he said this, Pam?

Pam: I think for young children, this is a reflection of their raising. It’s what they are around and it’s what they are exposed to. I mean, how else would they learn something like that?

Kristin: Absolutely. If you had to give me a definition right now of racism, what would it be?

Pam: Geez, you put me right on the spot!


Pam: If I had to give a single definition, I would define racism as a learned concept that allows a person of a certain race to think they are better and too good to associate with people of another race.

Kristin: You say single. Why?

Pam: I think there is no one single definition. I think racism is a multitude of experiences, attitudes, and beliefs. The definition can be different from one person to another based on these things.

Kristin: Very true. Okay I’m Going to go back to your story and the boy’s punishment of a probable suspension and an apology letter. This incident occurred 39 years after the Civil Rights Act and 40 years after MLK Jr wrote “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” I think we still see racism in America in part because of the “white moderate” MLK described. Yes, there are laws in place for racial equality and a punishment for this type of behavior years ago would be nonexistent. However, there is obviously a lot of racism in America still- whether direct or indirect. It seems to be a cultural thing for people in the South. I feel like an establishment for education, such as the middle school, should be instilling in these kids acceptance of others and a lot of other things that I won’t get into right now. For me, this is where the white moderate falls into place. Just because white people don’t deal with racism and inequalities, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. They can say, “Racism is bad,” however, is that all they are going to do? Teach the children factual information and show them how being Othered impacts people.

Pam: I think being “blind” is a real problem, like you said. If racism were impacting a white male or someone like that who doesn’t necessarily have any obstacles, this would be a problem and there would be a solution.

Kristin: Well, I could go on and on about this. However, we are running out of time here. Pam, it was great speaking with you. I’m glad you came on the show.

Pam: Me too. I hope everyone can just look at how they are presenting themselves around their children and be a good role model. If you hear something unjust, say something. Don’t let it just go in one ear and out the other.

Environmental injustices in Southeastern North Carolina

By Kristin Power

Far too long have non-white communities in North Carolina had to suffer from injustices. More recently, these communities in the eastern part of the state have been enduring environmental inequities due to the large concentration of hog and poultry farms. The problem is commercial hog farms are permitted to be placed (by the state of North Carolina) within proximity to already existing residencies. The counties in which they are established are predominantly black counties. These farms utilize open-air waste lagoons and spray fields. The residents of these counties “had higher mortality due to infections, anemia, kidney disease, and perinatal conditions, and higher rates of hospital admissions and ED visits for LBW infants. The observed higher rate of all-cause mortality is consistent with the lower life expectancy in this area” (Kravchenko, Rhew, Akushevich, Agarwal, & Lyerly, 2018).

I believe this to be systemic injustice because the state of North Carolina is permitting these farms to be within proximity to preexisting homes. Furthermore, North Carolina is not addressing the environmental inequities faced by these residents. In the latest public hearing, North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality stated, “cumulative health impacts are not currently in the Department’s purview” (Poupart, 2019).

In my opinion, a simple change in how hog waste is handled would be a solution. Also, future hog and poultry farms should not be permitted to be established unless a specified distance from residential areas is met. NCDEQ should also be reviewed based on the blatant disregard of the communities’ health disparities as a result of hog and poultry farms.

This problem is relatable to the hardships, injustices, and inequities faced by Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis. These people are trying to fight for equality. However, these people are fighting for equality long after the Civil Rights Act was passed.

Here are two links describing the situation:



Kravchenko, J., Rhew, S. H., Akushevich, I., Agarwal, P., & Lyerly, H. K. (2018). Mortality and Health Outcomes in North Carolina Communities Located in Close Proximity to Hog Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. North Carolina Medical Journal79(5), 278–288. doi: 10.18043/ncm.79.5.278

Poupart, J. (2019). Environmental Justice. In Hearing Officer’s Report and Response to Public Comments for the Renewal of the State General Permits for Animal Feeding Operations (pp. 24–24). NCDEQ. Retrieved from Resources/Report-of-Proceedings-FInal-04.11.2019.pdf

Synesthesia: An Introduction

“Synesthesia is a neurological condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway (for example, hearing) leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway (such as vision)” (“Synesthesia”, n.d.). In other words, synesthesia is experiencing a sense normally, in addition to experiencing it with another sense. Most people who have synesthesia are either born with it or develop it early in life. However, there is research that shows it is possible to develop synesthesia later in life (Watson, n.d.).

The following are examples of how synesthetes experience the world collected by Siri Carpenter:

Guitar music doesn’t just tickle Carol Crane’s fancy–it also brushes softly against her ankles. When she hears violins, she also feels them on her face. Trumpets make themselves known on the back of her neck. In addition to feeling the sounds of musical instruments on her body, Crane sees letters and numbers in brilliant hues. And for her, units of time each have their own shape: She sees the months of the year as the cars on a ferris wheel, with July at the top, December at the bottom.

Sean Day, PhD, tastes in technicolor. “The taste of beef, such as a steak, produces a rich blue,” says Day, a linguistics professor at National Central University in Taiwan. “Mango sherbet appears as a wall of lime green with thin wavy strips of cherry red. Steamed gingered squid produces a large glob of bright orange foam, about four feet away, directly in front of me.”

There are some famous people who have synesthesia or had it while they were alive. Here are a few you might recognize: Mary J Blige, Duke Ellington, Billy Joel, Marilyn Monroe, Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, Charli XCX, Vincent Van Gogh, Eddie Van Halen, and Stevie Wonder (“Famous People With Synesthesia That Everyone Should Know”, 2015) I find it very interesting that all of these people are artists.


Works Cited

Carpenter, S. (2001, March). Everyday fantasia: The world of synesthesia. Retrieved from

Famous People With Synesthesia That Everyone Should Know. (2015, January 6). Retrieved from

Synesthesia. (n.d.). Retrieved February 25, 2020, from

Watson, K. (n.d.). What Is Synesthesia? Retrieved from