DepositStructural Racism and Practices of Reading in the Medical Humanities

This article argues that the humanities and medicine fields have paid insufficient attention to race, which is reflected in and enabled by the apolitical nature of their cornerstone principles, their practices of literary interpretation, and their paucity of scholarship on writers of color. I examine the fields’ interpretation of Audre Lorde’s illness narratives to show that canonical views of her writings efface her radical critique of racism in medicine. I then uncover a new interpretation of the works of Anatole Broyard, whose writings the fields have never considered in light of his passing; once viewed as passing narratives, his works illuminate how racism functions in health care. The article underscores the urgent need for new interpretive practices that would better address structural racism, and I offer suggestions for what form such practices might take.