White Supremacy v. Structural Racism

Working on an NIH Institutional grant to develop a culture that is more conducive to the thriving of faculty who are from under-represented backgrounds. The task at hand is to create an equitable culture of scientific excellence.

The FOA from NIH focuses on Race, and the writing team has been discussing whether to use the term White Supremacy or Structural Racism. I think that White Supremacy is the most directly correct term, because a great deal of the Structural or Systemic harm operates visually–the billions of calculations my brain makes when I see someone in a space. This is how “may I help you?” operates when it is experienced and sometimes meant as a worried “Why are you here? Am I in danger? Are you going to steal my stuff?”

We are going with the phrase Structural Racism, which I consider broadly to be a less specific synonym of how Race in the United States helps those who can pass as White, and harms those who cannot, but this is NIH, a slowly moving organization. And them having this initiative at least acknowledges that identifying the impacts of Structural Racism on Universities has not yet lead to true culture change. May a new day dawn at Duke.

About Don Taylor
Professor of Public Policy (with appointments in Business, Nursing, Community and Family Medicine, and the Duke Clinical Research Institute), and Chair of the Academic Council at Duke University https://academiccouncil.duke.edu/ . I am one of the founding faculty of the Margolis Center for Health Policy. My research focuses on improving care for persons who are dying, and I am co-PI of a CMMI award in Community Based Palliative Care. I teach both undergrads and grad students at Duke. On twitter @donaldhtaylorjr

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