The Difference Between Us: Post-viewing Activity

Please respond to the following question below:

Should doctors and other health professionals take biological race into account when diagnosing and treating illness? Why? Can you think of a situation where thinking about race as biological might be misleading or have a negative effect? How would considering social race be different?

34 thoughts on “The Difference Between Us: Post-viewing Activity

  1. I don’t think they should take “biological race” into account, when they diagnose or treat an illness, but more of genetic history, I guess? Like for example, are certain diseases passed down genetically (ie: diabetes, schizophrenia, etc.) present in your family and so forth. Using race as something to help with diagnosing won’t be helpful, since it’s using race as an assumption or pretense of what the person may have, and if they don’t have those conditions, they end up doing blood test/work and all that to find out what’s wrong (which by the way, wastes time, and seems like a great way to milk money from your patients), instead of doing that in the first place while taking into account the symptoms the patient gave you.
    It’s the same with how you are treated in an interview. You are judged on your resume, but how you look can discredit your resume all-together, even though you have a great resume and plenty of references.

    • Good distinction between race and genetic ancestry- we’ll talk more about this throughout the course. Family history is also different from genetic ancestry and it is a fault of medicine for using the term ‘race’ as a supplement to family history and genetics. The three couldn’t be more different from one another.

  2. Honestly, No I don’t think biological race should be taken into account when diagnosing and treating illness. I feel like race can be used into to account when researching or to create data for reference and make a scientific guess as to where the patient would stand so you would know how to go about the patient. If biological race were to be considered into treating illness I think results would be thrown off. Biological race should be used very loosely and not as a strong reference because people are just not only Black, White, Asian..ect. As for social race…I think its more accurate because of how people interact with others and how technology is used today has to do more with the illnesses that are developed today.

    • “How technology is used today…” you raise an interesting point. Using biological race to indicate disease factors related to a person is not a good use of science. Technologically speaking, science has demonstrated that social race captures more features related to disease and health than does biological race (which is made up and tells us little about a person’s potential)

  3. I believe that biology is important when diagnosing and treating illness. Doctors often ignore certain symptoms because they learn that they are assigned to specific races but present themselves in opposite races are overlooked and it may be detrimental. As in the movie, it is important to realize that the we are more similar than different. Biological race can be misleading when you are looking at things from a social or mental perspective. I believe that nature play an significant part in those aspects of a persons life.

    Social race and biological race should all be taken into consideration when making diagnosis and treating illnesses.

    • There are many differences between race as ‘biology’ and race as ‘social’. Both are used to explain differences. We’ve learned that biologically we are more similar than different. A physician relying solely on biological race might see any difference between their black vs white patient as being natural and not the result of society viewing and treating races as different. Biological race fails to acknowledge that the idea of race itself is full of social consequences.

  4. When doctors and other health professionals are diagnosing and treating illness I do not think they should take into account their biological race because that would then be a diagnosis based on physical characteristics. I think they should take into account ethnicity because that would be a diagnosis based on the history of health in that patients family based on culture and region of origin. A good example of how thinking about race as a biological characteristic can be misleading is if a doctor told a white person that they are more likely to get skin cancer because of the color of their skin. That would be misleading because it would be the persons bad habits of not protecting their skin that may cause them to be more likely to get skin cancer, not because they are white. I think that considering social race would be even more misleading to a patient because then the doctor would be using stereotypes to create a diagnosis.

    • Great examples as to how using biological race instead of say, individual behaviors is problematic for everyone, not just people of color. Stereotyping by physicians often means that the doctor sees a person of color as different from whites and that difference is natural or fixed (non-modifiable) whereas social race gives bigger clues as to what can be changed to promote health and prevent disease and TRULY explain differences for that individual.

  5. Why not? To completely eliminate a possible explanation/key factor out of a diagnosis is just absurd. Even if it isn’t the cause this time or the next, one day it might be. I think all factors should be taken into consideration under those circumstances. I know there are prescribed “drugs” for patients of a certain race with the belief that “this” drug works better for this race than that race. I don’t quite fully understand that, could biological race have been the key determinant? In cases where biological race used for statistics or census would definitely be misleading. I think we should do one of those and see just how many differences there are as a whole, and if they split those complete differences how many different “races” or groups would there be then?
    Considering social race would be completely different. In a health situation your social race doesn’t really say much. But I have said nothing should be eliminated from a diagnosis just off the slightest chance it may be the cause. But if you take into consideration people of the same physical characteristics its a different story not just in color but in body type, in body type we are all different. There’s athletic, slim, skinny, thick, obese that’s physical and a key factor in any diagnosis.

    • Our Can you describe how race (biological- meaning that the assumption is Blacks and biologically different from Whites) causes a disease? The point i’m trying to make here is that because we are all so similar biologically, haw can race cause an illness? What would that look like? Understanding that race is social, we can actually point to causes (behaviors, opportunities, exposure) of disease. Take another moment to think about your response. You’re getting there…. 🙂

  6. Doctors and other health professionals should not take biological race into account when diagnosing and treating illness. In the film we watched, we saw that DNA of an individual of a different race was a 100% match with the people of completely different race. Also it is mentioned in the film ” There’s as much or more diversity and genetic difference within any racial group as there is between people of different racial groups.” However, if doctors and other health professionals take biological race into account when diagnosing and treating illness they might not come up with better treatment. Or that they might miss some important things needed to treat the particular patient. Each individual from each group or races aren’t the same. Each individual varies from one another, and that each individual might be of better match with the individual of another race. Moreover, doctors and health professionals should not focus merely on the biological race, but they should keep in mind the genetic history and the medical background of each individual when treating illness or taking measures.

    • Great response. If the physician were to take into account the social nature of ‘race’ what else might they learn to be related to disease and health Are there effects of race in the U.S. that over time have put certain groups of people at greater risk for illness than others?

  7. No, I do not believe that biological race should be taken into consideration when diagnosing or treating an illness. One main reason is that, people of the same race do not always have similar genetic makeup, so it would be hard to find a specific reason to base the diagnosis or treatment on. Take for example, not all black women will respond in the same way to a particular treatment for breast cancer. Some people have stronger immune systems, and are mentally and physically prepared for treatment while others may not be, so it would not be clever to just base everything on what a person’s race is. Although, over the years, experts have drawn numerous conclusions about diseases such as diabetes, saying it is more likely to affect the Black race and can be more of a risk to Hispanic and Chinese women who are pregnant. These types of conclusion aren’t accurate because there are various factors to take into consideration. It would be good to do a background checkup and see what food (diet), people of that specific race eat and what connection it has to the illness, and also see the level of medical treatment they receive to prevent other illnesses. Most importantly, the study would have to be done on a world wide scale. That said, I think it would be better to diagnose or treat an illness based on a person’s family history rather than race. If someone’s parents have a hereditary disease, that person would be at high risk of getting it (the disease).

  8. I don’t think biological race should be taken account for because it really doesn’t have nothing to do with treating illness. Like one of my peers mentioned above, it’s accurate when race is accounted for in developing research and data but for not for diagnosing illnesses.

    Social race would be considered different in a sense that society sees the white population superior than the black population, from watching the movie on Thursday. Social race is on how society sees us interacting with one another

    • You raise an important issues as to how biological race lends itself to viewing on race as better or superior that the other. That’s the worst- when superiority is viewed as being natural or biological. Social race allows us to see historically how certain groups have inherited and maintained privilege while others remain marginalized from opportunity. You will hopefully enjoy the remaining two episodes.

  9. Doctors and other health professionals should not take biological race into account when diagnosing and treating illness to a patient because the information would not be accurate. I think that when doctors take biological race to account when they treat Illness they don’t of the mixture of “race” of people. If we think on the situation when doctors says that Latinos have more probability on getting Alzheimer than people who are white or black, then what would happen to kids who are mixtures of Latino with white, black or Asian. Are they being completely ignore, or the risk of Alzheimer has decreased on them. According to the movie “The Power of an Illusion” the origin of human kind comes from Africa and began expanding all over the world, so there is no question on way students from the film were a complete match with kids from another country. Some disease could be hereditary such as diabetes, so it doesn’t matter what “race” you are.

    • Diabetes is in fact no hereditary– it certainly runs in families, but the primary way of acquiring Diabetes (type II specifically) is through individual behaviors. That is to say, one’s mother or father does not pass on the disease. Instead, if one’s mother/father has the illness they are likely to have modelled/demonstrated the choices that caused the illness in the first place, and a child is likely to repeat. When we identify groups of people as being more likely to have an illness, we must remember that there is little to do with biology or biological race. Ancestry and race are very difference ideas. Good job.

  10. No, I don’t think doctors and other health professionals should take biological race into accounting when diagnose or treat an illness, because i think race is the physical appearance of the person, race represents the outer layer of the person. It does not have anythings to do with the health. I’d think certain diseases could passed down by their ancestors and parent, Using race as biological could leads to negative effect because, if the doctors uses races as references for treatment, it will leads to many problems, because every person body is different from one other. Race is just an term to define a group of people with same characteristic traits. Doctors should not use race as first references to treats a patient.

    • Good- and I agree that race is limiting in what it can tell you about someone’s biological make up. Social race, however, might explain things like habits, access to care, stress, poverty, education– all things that are important and related to disease and illness. Social race might be informative to a physician, but as you mentioned, so would knowing the individual and their genetic ancestry (neither of which is race). Good response.

  11. Although race is something that was constructed or formed to differentiate one set of people from the other, as stated in the video clip (Race: The Difference between Us), “under the skin we are effectively the same”. I wouldn’t go with the notion for doctors and other health professionals to take biological race into account when diagnosing and treating illness – that would welcome a platform of racism debate to undermine or sidelining one race from the other. However, on the other side of the coin, they should take it into account for the sake and betterment of science and research (since biology is a scientific subject) to better understand the human race and to be able to tell, if any, the difference(s) or effect(s) of illnesses and diagnoses from different races. Biology as we know it teaches about life, living things and their growth, structure, their evolution, and many other sub-branches that relates to humans. And if we have distinguished ourselves because of our race (color to be specific), it’s because of the different part of the world we either came from, or live. As a result of these different parts of the world we all came from due to mutation or evolution, a lot has changed – biologically, genetically, etc. as we mate with each other along the way and spreading throughout the world. This has caused us to either develop or inherited some form of illness or disease, for example (not in all cases) from our parent(s) as we continued to spread out. Therefore, if someone from Africa or an African American, Asian, or European is diagnosed with some form of illness or disease for instance, and it is uncommon in the other race, it makes sense for doctors and health professionals to take a step back, figure out, or trace (research) the illness/disease if it’s common in that particular race and where they live or came from; and come up with the conclusion of taking into account these findings and whether or not to implement the idea of accounting biological race when diagnosing and treating illness.
    On the other hand, thinking about race as biological might be misleading and have negative effects depending on the context and how it is used. I don’t think of race as biological because RACE is a made up word to differentiate people – what they look like, hair and skin color, etc. But biologically speaking, if I were to think of race as biological, it’s because of this big difference between us – the SKIN COLOR. And if it’s the skin color, one might use race (which tells and shows your skin color and where and what part you came from), as biological. But this would be misleading because, for instance, it is not necessarily plausible to say what a person in Asia, Europe, or North America is diagnose with, might be the same for the other in another place, even though genetically we have some similarities. The effects might or could be different from person to person.
    In addition, considering differences in social race is presumably how and where we are brought up; the society or community in which we live in; adaptation, traits, people we interact with, things that we do, etc. All these have great impact and contribute to our social race differences.

    • Great response– in the first half of your argument you did nice job describing how physicians might use genetic ancestry. It is important to remember that biological race and genetic ancestry are not the same thing. You did an excellent job describing how social race might offer real and modifiable clues to health and disease– these are incredibly important and might empower patients to engage in healthy behaviors rather than feeling powerless and thinking they’re doomed because something runs in their family or in their racial group.

  12. I think that doctors shouldn’t take biological race into account to diagnose or treat a person. First, health care providers have to do extra sets of tests to find out biological race which is time consuming and its poses financial strain. Secondly, people from same region might share some common illness but two people with similar biological race might not be as much similar as we think they are. Important thing is that doctors and health care professionals should take into account a person’s health history and family history of disease. Considering social race, social race has nothing to do with biology. Social race is where we think we belong socially. I believe that social race has nothing to do with illness. It only can effect in such a way that people from upper social race might be able to afford expensive treatments than other social race.

    • Thanks for your response. We will be discussing at great length how social race has plenty to do with illness. We understand that certain illnesses affect some racial groups more than others. We also know that race and genetic ancestry are not the same thing. Social race, the idea that privilege and wealth are not equally distributed, has tremendous impacts on an individual from their health behaviors to what diseases they might get. Spend more time thinking about how the concept of ‘power’ might relate to health. Great start to thinking more deeply about the topic.

  13. I don’t think doctors and other health professional should consider “biological race” when diagnosing and treating a patient. This would create many problems. As we saw in the video we might have more differences between our same race than someone from a different race. The doctors should consider more the patients family health history and their habits example smoking. Also there is a lot of races mixing now so I think it would be more difficult to think of race as being biological. For me race is something humans came up with to differentiate each other and I don’t think it has any biological basis. We are all one race Homo sapiens sapiens.
    Social race is the correct way to look on how we view race. It’s something that humans made up to classify each other. If we had a specific gene that would classify you into a specific race then I would say there is a biological component to it but to me it’s all social.

    • Good job here. I would ask you to think about how classifying people based upon how they look might affect one’s health and illness. You raise a good point that family history and genetics matter and are different from race. Social race is responsible for the opportunities that are made available— in what way does power and privilege impact our well-being? We’ll talk plenty more about it in class!

  14. Race is a complex concept, and the two major competing theories of race use biological and social determinants of health include environmental, social, and genetic factors, as well as the person’s individual characteristics and behaviors,so therefore it shouldn’t be problem to take race into account when diagnosing and treating illness. it would help people to clearly understand that race is not something people choose and its a normal everyone should be treated equal with fairness. And most importantly no one was born a racist it should be considered some sort of therapy to help people cope with this situation as racism

    • Thanks for your response Ced. If a physician thought that Blacks and Whites were created differently, how might this negatively affect their patients? And what if a doctor realized that race was invented and as a result created social injustice– how might that physician understand and treat their patients of color? Does a physician’s definition of race impact the patient? These are the questions I’d like you to consider more.

  15. “Biological race” should not be taken into consideration when diagnosing illnesses and selecting the right treatment for patients because, as we learned in the video we watched in class, race is an ideology and has no scientific evidence. Instead, doctors could focus on the patient’s medical background and ethnicity or “social race”. It occurs to me that one’s ethnicity could be helpful for doctors to get details about their patient’s lifestyle and other factors that might be affecting the patient’s health. However, doctors should not rely 100% on ethnicity because of all the prejudice related to it. For example, the doctor of a mexican patient with chronic heartburn might assume that the cause of the illness is the patient’s diet, which is known to be a diet high in fat and spice. But what if the patient’s illness is actually a consequence of a stressful lifestyle and lack of sleep? Then the patient would be walking out of the doctor’s appointment with the wrong treatment due to incorrect assumptions. In conclusion, ethnicity or “social race” could be useful to get to know more about the patient’s personal background but it is better if doctors focus on knowing the patient’s family medical history.

    • Excellent response– your example shows that you’ve considered this in a practical way. A physician (even scientists) can gain a deeper understanding of an individual from knowing race to be social (WAY more that what somewhat might assume if race were biological). I enjoyed reading how you thought through this to state that even relying on social race can be misleading. Physicians should then (I guess you’re suggesting) take more time to understand that individual that they are treating and not rely on labels like race. What about other labels like age? Gender? How might a physician use that information, and what should they think carefully about when using that kind of information?

  16. Doctors and health professionals should not consider biological race in to account when diagnosing a patient because it is not always accurate. Not every single person is the same. You can be the total opposite of your typical race would be. A situation where thinking about race as a biological might be misleading is that someone can have a certain illness that only white people can have but if doctors do not consider this certain illness and treat for it since it only occurs with white people, it can lead to heavy consequences, including death. Considering social race is is usually no different also since we are all genetically the same.

    • Some points to consider Ken- according to what we’ve learned about biology and genetic variation, we virtually ARE all the same. What is it that might be typical of a racial group? Are these “typical” features more social or more natural? And what might each of these features tell us about a person’s health? You make a good point about the dangers of misapplying race when it comes to diagnosis.

  17. How would considering social race be different
    Doctors and other health professionals should definitely not take biological race into account when diagnosing and treating illness. As we learned from the film we can be as similar as we are different on a biological level to someone we feel fits into the definition of sociological race. Biological race can be misleading in the fact that i may have a 100% match to someone in a completely different continent but our life-styles are totally different, we are not both exposed to the same air quality, diseases and things of that nature. Social race is the same for the same reason. Two people from the same race can grow up in different environments.

  18. I think race as biological might mislead or have a negative effect is when it comes to treating an illness. If doctors are going to take race into account, then there will be many stereotype involved while treating the patient. I would like to share my own example.
    Recently I had to get done my tuberculous test. Commonly known as PPD. I have been through this test many times, as it is required in medical jobs, schools and many agencies. I went to my Dr. they did the skin test and the next day I got red rash which means that test came out positive. Then I was asked to go for my x-rays. I did so and the result was negative. And I was sure that I do not have any symptoms of such illness. And then my doctor explained, “A lot of Asian people go through it. Their skin test comes positive but x-rays are negative. So, basically, he was treating me while taking race into account. Which I think could have mislead him. It was my first time that I got rash. And he associated me with every Asian. It could have jeopardized my medical record. And then I might not be able to work in any agency who provides direct care to the population. My doctor is Asian himself. I could have said him that Asian people do not treat well enough. I should not have done this test with you.
    This is why I strongly believe that race should not be involved in treating someone.

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