Monday, November 20, 2017
Historic Medicine and the ‘Mud People’ (2 of 5)
By Dr. Firpo W. Carr (Columnist)
Published November 8, 2007

Modern Black Health Care or Black Health Scare?

(Part 2 of 5 part series)

“Scientific Racism” has been described by one encyclopedia as “a term that describes scientific theories that purport to support concepts and beliefs which are typically perceived as racist. Historically, scientific racism (or pseudo-scientifical racism) has included the use of anthropology (especially physical anthropology), anthropometry, craniometry, phrenology, physiognomy and other disciplines in the construction of typologies, or the classification of humans into distinct biological races. Such theories have provided ideological justifications to racism, slavery and colonialism during the New Imperialism period in the second half of the 19th century.” Yes, even the hallowed halls of science cannot escape the ugly specter of racism.

And when one examines the roots of health care for Black people and other minorities one agency states: “As advocates, we need to look critically at racism and/or White privilege both in terms of how it affects the lives of our clients and ourselves. In California, where ethnic and racial minorities comprise more than 50 percent of the state’s population, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, the problem of racism, unequal health, and racial inequalities in healthcare treatment “isn’t a problem for the few; it places the majority of people living here in California at risk.” Let’s take another look at the plight of Black women to illustrate the point:

Callipygian means “having shapely buttocks” according to Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. But, although not made obvious to the casual observer, this definition is referring to the White Greek women. Archeologists have even discovered an ancient statuette called “Callipygian Venus (Venus of the Beautiful Buttocks),” currently on display at the Museo Nazionale in Naples, Italy. Aphrodite was the White Greek mythical goddess of rapturous love while sex goddess Venus, who came later, was her White Roman counterpart. Where does the Black woman factor into the pantheon of Greek gods and goddesses? She doesn’t. She’s inflicted with the loathsome White ancient Greek-inspired disease call “steatopygia.” And just how is this malady defined.

Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (and other dictionaries concur) answers thusly: ‘An excessive development of fat on the buttocks especially of females that is common among the Hottentots [an African ethnic group] and some Negro peoples.’ No, according to the ancient Greeks, only White women had “shapely buttocks.” Black women, on the other hand, had “an excessive development of fat” on theirs’! Note the medical connotation. The definition doesn’t say Black women accumulated too much fat on their hind parts. It doesn’t say simply that there was too much fat their. It says that it was a “development.” No wonder Black women go in for a toothache and come out with a hysterectomy!

By way of contrast, Scientific Racism doesn’t say that very tall African American and African basketball players have ‘developed excessive height.’ No, these White scientists like watching basketball too much to say that! They don’t say Blacks in track and field have ‘developed excessive speed.’ No, they like watching them perform too much!

Have White scientists really bought into Scientific Racism? Stay tuned for Part 3!

n Dr. Carr can be reached at (800) 501-2713 or email

Categories: Dr. Firpo W. Carr

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