Benjamin Rabinowitz Symposium in Medical Ethics on Race, Health and Justice

Submitted by Kate Goldyn on

Benjamin Rabinowitz Symposium in Medical Ethics on “Race, Health and Justice,” held on April 15, 2022, was a one-day, cross disciplinary symposium which presented theoretical and empirical research on racial injustice and its impact on health and well-being.

The keynote address "The Black Body and the Trauma of Whiteness" was given by George Yancy, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Philosophy at Emory University. In his talk, he discussed both spectacular and mundane ways in which the Black body experiences moments of deep trauma, that is, forms of white anti-Black wounding that have their genesis in violent white gazes, white policing, white mythomania, and white normativity. Black bodies are deemed abject and their humanity questioned through the framework of the binary structure of whiteness. Explicit within this talk is an interrogation of the "innocence" of whiteness and how the unveiling of whiteness demonstrates its haptic structure or violent touch. Given this, how do we make sense of the distinction between "good" whites and "bad" whites? Is the distinction even sustainable, and in what form? He gestured toward what he sees as the necessary "insurrection at the level of ontology" (Judith Butler's language) of whiteness itself. He argued that whiteness must be in crisis, disoriented, and un-sutured (indeed, come to terms with its own toxicity) if Black bodies are to exist and move within the world with effortless grace.  

Watch Professor George Yancy’s talk here:

(Content Notice: This presentation includes graphic descriptions of racist violence and the use of racial slurs.) 

Additionally, the symposium featured talks on Anti-Racism:

 “Racism and Reparations in Public Health Research, Practice, and Education,” Wendy Barrington (Associate Professor, School of Nursing & Public Health; Director, ARCH Center)

“Technoscientific Imaginaries of Anti-racism,” Oliver Rollins (Assistant Professor, American Ethnic Studies)

Anti-Racism and Decolonization:

“Towards Equity in Public Health: A Brief Overview of Anti-Racist Principles and Strategies,” Mienah Sharif (Assistant Professor, School of Public Health, Epidemiology) and Brandie Flood (Director of Community Justice, Evergreen Treatment Services–REACH 

“Indigenous Health and Thrivance in the Face of Historical Trauma and Ongoing Oppression,” Michelle Johnson-Jennings (Professor, School of Public Health & Social Work)

And Decolonization:

“Unruly Images: A Few Words on Colonial Hauntings in the Everyday Ordinary,” Temi Odumosu (Assistant Professor, Information School)

“Colonial Fallacies and Scientific Racism in Intersex Medicine: African Activists’ Challenges to Violent Legacies,” Amanda Swarr (Associate Professor, Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies)

The Symposium is sponsored by the Department of Philosophy, the Program on Ethics, the School of Public Health, and the Benjamin Rabinowitz Endowment in Medical Ethics at UW. Anjum Hajat, School of Public Health, and Carina Fourie, Program on Ethics, Department of Philosophy, in conjunction with THINK (The Health and Inequality Network) are the organizers. Thank you to all the participants and everyone who attended.