Black Dermatologists Speak on Racial Disparities and Diversity Opportunities

Callender: Every picture of an ulcer or herpes was on a Black man’s penis.

Brown: That’s true. Yep. Absolutely.

Henry: Then I was in residency, we were studying for the boards and they put up a Kodachrome — what we call these photos that we do teaching around. It was a Black person, and I think it was… it may have been discoid lupus or something. And then [someone] said, “Well, something that helps you is that if it’s a Black patient, you know it’s either syphilis or lupus.” I was just floored. I was the only Black person in the program. At that point, I wasn’t courageous enough to stand up for myself and say, “This is obscene.” But I really never forgot it.

Brown: Right, the textbooks are very strategic in what they’re putting out, but at the same time it’s the people that are providing these resources and the other dermatologists that are teaching this. I’m like, it doesn’t take much to look up something. If I’m going out of my way to look up other things in skin of color, then these white dermatologists can do the same and start teaching those.

Kindred: We have to have publishers and editors of journals and textbooks that say this is unacceptable. As long as they’re willing to publish garbage, we’ll be teaching and learning garbage. They have to be the ones that say, “Your photos are not diverse enough,” or “Actually, your article is racist.”

When those people in a decision-making capacity adjust, we’ll see change. So no matter how many med students like Micah try to learn on their own, everyone won’t learn it until it’s in the text. If you get the text-maker to make it unbiased, then people will study what’s unbiased.

Cruel: Dr. Callender and Dr. Kindred, what was it like for you all? If, in 2021, we still don’t have textbooks with Black people in them, when you all were first coming out of school and going into residency, how did you make sure to have that information to serve the communities that you now serve?

Kindred: Well, we were spoiled. We trained at Howard. Part of the discussion at Howard’s department of dermatology is, okay, this research article says this, but what are we seeing in the clinic? How is what we’re seeing in Blacks different? Like we’re taught scientifically and intentionally and didactically on all skin, especially where Blacks fall through the cracks.

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