Note from BW of Brazil: As many of you regular readers no doubt already know, a few of the main themes of this blog are racism, racial identity, racial inequality, black hair, police violence and of course, the image of black women. As we have repeatedly shown, Brazilian society generally reserves a few specific places for black women, and these places/positions are generally not recognized as places of prestige (Carnaval dancers, maids, cooks and cleaning women). For this reason, we always like to shine the spotlight on women who escape from these stereotypes and excel in life. Today’s post is an example of just that.
The medical field is generally one associated with white people, specifically white males and when there are women in the field, these women are imagined to be white as well. There are numerous areas where black Brazilians are vastly under-represented in the nation, and if the topic ever comes up, most people will tell you that they’ve never received medical treatment from a black doctor. But they DO in fact exist. In the piece below, we present a few of these outstanding women to you, a few of whom we’ve featured in past posts.
Black women doctors
Courtesy of Blog Tudo de Preta
The 18th of October is celebrated as Dia da(o) Médica(o) (Doctor’s Day).
I personally have never been served by a black woman or black man doctor. And there are 29 years of many trips to clinics and hospitals, besides having spent my entire childhood at the health center where my (mother?) work as a nursing assistant. Because of being the largest health center in Latin America, there were various professionals, so the opportunity of meeting physicians in which I could see myself I didn’t miss.
At the time, it never caused me any discomfort, however, currently really looking for a black gynecologist, I’m having trouble finding one.
Months ago I asked this question on my Facebook profile and had some colleagues who didn’t understand why, and, yes, they were also black girls who didn’t understand our need to be tended to by health professionals who are of our ethnicity.
Black women are the ones that suffer the most from neglect and abuse in medical care. They don’t receive anesthesia and medication when needed in times of pain, they wait longer in lines even when they arrive before (others), besides the blatant racism when healthcare professionals on duty say that we are more resistant to pain than white women.
Last year the Federal Government has launched a campaign against racism in SUS (1).
The Health Minister Arthur Chioro, affirmed that the campaign aims to combat the institutional discrimination and re-enforce the Política Integral de Saúde da População Negra (Comprehensive Health of the Black Population Policy). “We cannot tolerate any form of racism. This campaign is an alert to healthcare professionals and to Brazilian society. Inequality and prejudice produce more disease, more death and more suffering. We want to construct a country of all and the most important way is to talk about inequality,” he said. The minister stressed that racism manifests often “in a refusal of access, adequate information, and care” (Source: Campanha mobiliza população contra racismo no SUS or Campaign mobilizes population against racism in SUS).
In this context, I questioned myself as to why the treatment is so dehumanized and in contrast, why is it is so rare to find black female and male professionals in the area of medicine?
Black doctors in real life
Despite not having known any black female or male doctor, some time ago, via Facebook I met Dr. Júlia Rocha. Black woman, a resident of Minas Gerais, family doctor that tends to her patients in such a humane and caring way that telling (people) no one believes (unintentionally reducing other professionals, but in the context medical care that we are used to, seeing doctors who treat their patients correctly, comes as a shock.)
Júlia always reveals her cases in her profile and whoever reads them are thrilled.
To my surprise, recently I met two more médicas pretas (black doctors). Dr. Maysa Teotonio Simão, who is also from Minas and a family doctor but who works in Bahia, and Dr. Inaiá Saraiva Prudente, who resides in Rio de Janeiro and acts as a family doctor, a pediatric specialist.
A friend told me about her mother, Dr. Zuleide Melo, who is medical specialist in gynecology, however she lives and works in Pernambuco. 🙁
The darling of the famous black women
Another wonderful professional, popular with artists, beautiful and owner of a winning smile is Dr. Katleen Conceição.
Katleen is Dermatologist with the Sociedade Brasileira de Dermatologia (Brazilian Society of Dermatology) of Rio de Janeiro and a member of the Sociedade Brasileira de Laser (Brazilian Society of Laser), she began her career as an intern at the Santa Casa de Misericórdia and did her postgraduate studies at the Universidade Federal Fluminense, where she stayed for four years as the head of the acne and peeling clinic. His father, also a doctor, and army colonel, exerted a strong influence on her career choice. From a structured family – culturally and financially – Katleen had the opportunity to study in good schools, frequent good restaurants, dressed well (her father always oriented her accordingly), yet constantly the victim of suspicious glances of those who can’t see (or don’t accept) a black and super competent professional (even more so in the medical field). In this regard, Katleen shrugs her shoulders, for today, she doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone.
Reference in the area (former head of the first Ambulatório de Dermatologia da Pele Negra – Dermatology Clinic for Black Skin – at the Hospital Federal de Bonsucesso, in Rio de Janeiro, where she tended to poor people),she is also the darling of artists and stars when it comes to peeling, and especially laser for black skin. (Source: A especialista)
Anyone with an interest in Dr. Katleen’s services, below are her phone numbers:
Rio de Janeiro 21-22749629/21-22749284 – São Paulo 11-32941957
Racism in medicine
Débora Reis, 29, a medical school student at the Medicina da Universidade Federal do Recôncavo Baiano (UFRB) of Santo Antônio de Jesus reported on her personal Facebook page an episode in which she was a victim of racism.
She revealed that on the afternoon of Friday, 3, a lady who was next to her in line at a correspondent bank initiated a dialogue: “Do you study history? It’s amazing how the career defines the person …” she asked.
“I don’t, I study medicine,” Débora responded. “My daughter also studies medicine, but she has cabelos lisos, olhos claros e é bem branquinha (straight hair, blue eyes and is very white),” retorted the lady.
“Why the question? I don’t look like I study medicine because of not having straight hair and the face of a poor person?” asked the student. “No, because usually those who take these courses dress differently and nowadays even the janitor’s son can study,” the woman shamelessly replied.
Also in his report, Débora reveals that she felt hurt with the dialogue and even cried. “Upon hearing the statement that human beings, because they are black, they don’t have the face of a doctor, it hurt and I cried,” vented the young woman (Source: Estudante de Medicina sofre racismo por ‘não ser branquinha de cabelos lisos – Medical student suffers racism for ‘not being white with straight hair’)..
Ariana Reis, 32, came to the end of 14 years dedicated to the university: three in preparation for access exams, five in the Pedagogy courses, six in Medicine. The invitation for her graduation ceremony ended with the following: “Sou mulher, sou negra, sou da favela e hoje sou médica.” (I am woman, I am black, I am from the favela and I’m a doctor today).
Because it’s difficult. Because Ariana is the great exception in Brazil where it’s rare to find black doctors in hospitals. The youngest of 12 siblings she was the first to go to college. She was the only black woman in her class at the Faculty of Technology and Science of Bahia. In six years studying Medicine, she came across just two black students from other years. “In the hospitals they always confused me with the girl cleaning the floor. If anything falls: ‘You come here, take the cloth, clean it.’ How many times have I heard that? Often. [They look at me]: ‘Ah, you’re the nurse, the assistant.’ If I’m sitting there at the table – they know it’s a doctor who is there at the table – [they ask]:’ It’s you? Ah …” And Ariana says, “I will call the person responsible for this.” Or show my badge on the beat: “She’s here, I’m a doctor.” (Source: Sou mulher, sou negra,sou da favela e hoje sou médica)
Despite all these storms, I revere all the doctors I mentioned and all the others.
Congratulations to all professional Médicas de Pele Preta (Black-skinned female doctors). #ubuntu
Source: Blog Tudo de Preta
- Sistema Único de Saúde (SUS or Unified Health System)
I’m petrified of Brazil especially since really getting to know so many things against the black population of Brazil. Well in the context of some experiences with lighter skinned Brazilians over my lifetime these things of course make sense and are not too shocking to be honest, just the right word would be heartbreaking to know. Maybe, just maybe one day when I do travel to Brazil I will simply embrace the humility that black Brazilians have living in their own land knowing these things that happen then on systemic basis. I salute you my sisters in all you do!!!!
Doctors, nurses, teachers, business owners, speakers, models, actresses, drivers, mothers, sisters – all that you are!!! One love for my sisters.