Hello everyone! My name is Himani Sirsi, and I have been attending BASIS Independent Brooklyn since 8th grade. I would like to welcome you to my Senior Project about the relationship between Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) and their relationship to the U.S. healthcare system. In the following weeks, I will embark on an in-depth study with the goal of understanding how the roots of racism in medicine affected the healthcare system over time and influenced the modern U.S. healthcare system.
I am a firm advocate of feminism, racial justice & equity, environmentalism, LGBTQ+ rights, education for all, the importance of arts, and more. My interests continue to evolve and expand as I continue to fight against inequity; however, I remain resolved in my mission – that an alliance of justice & equality must be omnipresent regardless of gender, sexuality, race, religion, or creed.
Throughout the past few decades, our society has undergone monumental changes, but 2020 was a year that will never be forgotten. 2020 was a year of accountability. Our society has begun the process of acknowledging and working to remedy the various disparities that exist as a result of racism being so deeply intertwined in our societal institutions. And while we’ve been focusing on our public safety departments and governmental institutions – things that we absolutely must continue to reform – it is of the utmost importance that we examine the medical field to dismantle the existing racist ideas and practices, alter medical education to distance ourselves from the Eurocentric standards, account for racial diversity, and ensure that healthcare is being provided equitably.
In order to help bring us closer to achieving this goal of more equitable healthcare, I plan on interviewing doctors, residents, fellows, and medical students from/pursuing a variety of specialties. I hope to learn about the specific biases that exist within those specialties, the medical profession as a whole, and in the future generation of healthcare practitioners. I also intend to interview and survey BIPOC youth and their families – through my onsite placement with the Red Hook Community Justice Center – in order to learn more about their opinions of physicians, the US healthcare system as a whole, and what they would like to see from doctors and in healthcare going forward. While scheduling and conducting the various interviews, I will be researching the roots of racism in medicine – examining specialties that have racist origins, like gynecology – and looking at how the profession has changed. I will be doing this by working collaboratively with history professors, internet research from credible sources, and through various forms of literature, including Harriet Washington’s Medical Apartheid.
I hope to create a manual explaining the roots of racism in medicine; what is being done well and what needs to be improved in regards to the healthcare of BIPOC communities. This document would include what various diseases look like on BIPOC; an understanding that race has no relationship to having higher pain tolerances; racial disparities in medicine based on my primary research as well as secondary sources; how to provide equitable healthcare; the current biases that exist; and informed recommendations for remediating the disparities.
Thank you for reading! I look forward to documenting and sharing my findings!