publication date: Oct. 30, 2020

Racism is a malignancy: Ibram X. Kendi reflects on his cancer experience

By Alexandria Carolan

After receiving a stage 4 colon cancer diagnosis, author Ibram X. Kendi sought consultation at two hospitals located a mile apart.

The first hospital served white and wealthy people. The second treated Blacks and the working class.

At Hospital 1, a doctor told Kendi that surgery was an option. At Hospital 2, the option of a life-saving surgery was not presented.

At the rich and white hospital, the surgeon was thorough. “He looked not only at my CT scan, but had an MRI done, studied the MRI, and decided that technically, he could go in and do surgery. Of course, he wanted more shrinkage in order to do that,” Kendi, professor of history and international studies, and director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research, said Oct. 26 during the virtual annual meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology. 

“After I saw him, I had a consult with the surgeon at the hospital that I was getting treatment at—and this was a hospital that primarily served working class people and Black people. And the surgeon did not look at the MRI—[he] looked at the CT and decided that there was pretty much nothing that he could do, and basically told me as much in the meeting,” said Kendi, also a columnist at The Atlantic, correspondent with CBS News, and author of four books, including How to be an Antiracist and Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas, said during the keynote talk.

Kendi’s books are widely read in oncology (The … Continue reading Racism is a malignancy: Ibram X. Kendi reflects on his cancer experience

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