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2021 Grantee Meeting Plenary: Saving the Future – We Must Shed Racist Medical Mythology to Free Children from Illness and Death

November 3, 2021

This plenary was part of the 2021 Healthy Start Grantee Meeting and featured Harriet A. Washington, MA an wward-winning Medical Writer, Editor, and Medical Ethicist. During the session, Ms. Washington described how illness, disability and death among Black children is a manufactured product of four centuries of medical indifference and abuse. We have long been mired in medical mythologies about Black children and their parents, from negative assumptions about parental fitness to outrageous mythologies such as ‘crack babies’. Current research has pointed the ways to more accurate and efficient strategies, but we must be careful to purge the unexamined mythologies that hinder us from pursuing those steps and policies that will restore our children to full health.

By the end of the session, participants learned to describe:

  • Three medical myths that still affect the healthcare rendered to contemporary black children.
  • Three discoveries that help rehabilitate the perception of black parents.
  • Three important contemporary health issues that require greater attention from medical researchers and the healthcare system.
  • Three health policies that will facilitate the reduction of racism and racial bias in the US healthcare system.


Harriet A. Washington, MA, an award-winning Medical Writer, Editor, and Medical Ethicist