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The Problem with Race-based Medicine

dorothy-roberts-race-based-medicine-speaker-wolfman-productions

Dorothy Roberts is the 14th Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor and George A. Weiss University Professor of Law & Sociology at University of Pennsylvania, with joint appointments in the Departments of Africana Studies and Sociology and the Law School, where she is the inaugural Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights. She is also Founding Director of the Penn Program on Race, Science & Society.

An internationally recognized scholar, public intellectual, and social justice activist, Roberts has written and lectured extensively on the interplay of race, gender, and class inequities in U.S. institutions and has been a leader in transforming thinking on reproductive justice, child welfare, and bioethics. She is author of Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty (1997); Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare (2001); Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-First Century (2011); and Torn Apart: How the Child Welfare System Destroys Black Families—And How Abolition C

dorothy-roberts-race-based-medicine-speaker-wolfman-productions

© Chris Crisman

an Build a Safer World (2022), as well as more than 100 articles and book chapters, including “Race” in the 1619 Project.

She has served on the boards of directors of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Black Women’s Health Imperative, and National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, and her work has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, National Science Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Fulbright Program, Harvard Program on Ethics & the Professions, and Stanford Center for the Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity.

She has served on the boards of directors of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Black Women’s Health Imperative, and National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, and her work has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, National Science Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Fulbright Program, Harvard Program on Ethics & the Professions, and Stanford Center for the Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity.

Recent recognitions of her work include 2019 Honorary Doctor of Law Degree, Rutgers University-Newark, 2019 election as a College of Physicians of Philadelphia Fellow, 2017 election to the National Academy of Medicine, 2016 Society of Family Planning Lifetime Achievement Award, 2015 American Psychiatric Association Solomon Carter Fuller Award, and 2011 election as a Hastings Center Fellow. Her TED Talk, “The Problem with Race-based Medicine,” has been viewed more than one million times.

For more information on booking Dorothy Roberts, contact Scott Wolfman

 

Talks include:

Fatal Invention: Re-creating Race in the Genomic Era

The mapping of the human genome in 2003 confirmed that race is not written in our genes. As Dorothy Roberts explains, race is a social category that was invented to support an unjust political hierarchy. Yet we are witnessing the re-creation of race in biological terms using cutting-edge genomic science and biotechnologies, such as race-specific medicines and ancestry tests, that incorporate false assumptions of racial difference at the genetic level. Roberts argues that this genetic understanding of race masks the continuing impact of racism in a supposedly post-racial society and she calls instead for affirming our common humanity by working to end the social inequalities that truly divide us.

The Problem with Race-based Medicine

The medical profession has long defined disease and treated patients according to race. Doctors continue to defend this practice by arguing that race serves as a helpful proxy for underlying clinical factors. But Dorothy Roberts traces race-based medicine to false assumptions about innate biological differences and to ugly justifications for slavery and medical exploitation. Today, race-based medicine diverts attention and resources from the social determinants that cause appalling racial gaps in health. Roberts calls for doctors to abandon this backward legacy and to join efforts to end health inequities caused by racism, not by genetic difference.

From Reproductive Choice to Reproductive Justice

Dorothy Roberts is a leading voice for reproductive freedom and has helped to transform advocacy for women’s health and rights. She explains how the mainstream rhetoric of “choice” has privileged women who have the ability to choose from reproductive options that are unavailable to poor and low-income women, especially women of color. “Choice” is a weak basis for claiming public resources that most women need in order to maintain control over their bodies and their lives. Roberts argues instead for a “reproductive justice” framework that includes not only a woman’s right not to have a child, but also the right to have children and to raise them with dignity, taking into account the real world context of reproductive decision making. Reproductive freedom is matter of social justice.

“It was terrific!” – Rachel R. Walden, MLIS, Associate Dean & Professor, Department of Learning Resources: Medical Library (Director), Biomedical Communications, Information Technology – Quillen College of Medicine, East Tennessee State University

“You were fantastic and have set the bar high for us for future events!” – Norma M. Holland, Director of Public Relations & Engagement, Office of Equity and Inclusion – University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry

“Dorothy was wonderful, as expected! Her talk was brilliant and she was wonderfully engaging.” – Paul M. Buckley, Ph.D., Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion – Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

“Thank you so much for the wonderful presentation yesterday. Your passion for the work was clearly on display and I very much appreciated your very honest assessment of the issues and what needs to change.” – Joan Berry, Executive Director, McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society – Stanford University

“…Your lecture was provocative and dynamic. I dare say you got more than a few converts, but, more importantly, you got people thinking, talking, clarifying their ideas, and sharpening their own arguments. We will continue to discuss and debate your work for a long time to come…” – Dianna Shandy, PhD, Associate Dean, Kofi Annan Institute for Global Citizenship – Macalester College

“What a successful event with Dr. Roberts! She was wonderful. Her presentation was brilliant and her interaction with students, faculty, and administration was excellent. Thanks so much!” – Christina Perez, Associate Professor Sociology, Director Study of Women and Gender Program – Dominican University

“Dorothy was wonderful!  By all accounts her talk was excellent and everyone who met with her came away inspired.  As one of my junior colleagues said, who texted me after her meeting: ‘I have a new academic hero.” – Jennifer H. Lundquist, Professor of Sociology – University of Massachusetts Amherst

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