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Science isn’t neutral. Science is carried out by people, and can be shaped by their beliefs, social values, blind spots, and biases—and while it can reveal the impacts of racism, science is also historically and currently embedded with racist and inequitable practices. As concerns such as racialized bioethics and data privacy continue to emerge in tandem with scientific progress, we examine where racism has been built into the sciences and how the scientific process can perpetuate racist points of view.
This program features:
Udodiri R. Okwandu is a doctoral student in the history of science at Harvard University whose current research considers the medicalization and racialization of Civil Rights protests in the 1960s, in the context of the rise of law-and-order political ideology. She will share her talk Violence and the (Black) Brain: Medicalizing Civil Rights Protest 1960–1975.
Looking for more? Check out these related resources.
A Study in Medical and Scientific Racism in America
This 2019 talk by Udodiri Okwandu was recorded at CafeSci Boston.
The Protest Psychosis by Jonathan Metzl
Released in 2011, this is a powerful account of how cultural anxieties about race shaped American notions of mental illness.
Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life by Karen and Barbara Fields
Sociologist Karen E. Fields and historian Barbara J. Fields argue that the practice of racism produces the illusion of race through what they call “racecraft”—and that it’s intimately entwined with other forms of inequality in American life.