[Editor’s note: This story originally was published by Real Clear Investigations.]
By John Murawski
Real Clear Investigations
Part 1 of 2 Articles (Part 2 Here)
Rejection used to be common for medical sociologist Thomas LaVeist when he tried to get his research published on the effects of racism on the health of black people. “Now,” said the 60-year-old dean of Tulane University’s School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine, “I have those same journals asking me to write articles for them.”
LaVeist’s experience illustrates the dramatic transformation in medical research, accelerating in the past few years. While few would dispute that black Americans are more prone to chronic health problems and have shorter life expectancies than whites, the medical community generally sought answers in biology, genetics and lifestyle. Research, like LaVeist’s, that focused on racism was frowned upon as lacking rigor or relevance, an amateurish detour from serious intellectual inquiry.
Today medical journal editors are clamoring for a racial lens and apologizing for what they call their past moral blindness. In recent years, and especially since Black Lives Matter protests erupted last year, systemic racism has been transformed from a fringe theory to a canonical truth.
Medical researchers are now able to offer a sweeping socio-political explanation for racial health disparities by citing the hundreds of peer-reviewed articles authored by LaVeist and a host of others,