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Psychiatrist addresses the path to racial wellness

Feb 24, 2022
5 min Read
Cindy Workman
Damon Tweedy

A Duke University psychiatrist Wednesday night urged Creighton students and professors to embrace an ongoing national journey toward racial equity in health care.
Damon Tweedy, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at Duke University School of Medicine, is the author of The New York Times bestseller Black Man in a White Coat, which details his experiences as a Black man navigating a predominantly White profession.
Addressing a live audience at the Creighton University Health Sciences Campus – Phoenix, and more than 300 attendees online, Tweedy outlined the difficult history of Black physicians as they sought access to established colleges, founded their own medical colleges, and encountered casual assumptions about the susceptibility of Black people to various ailments.  
His appearance was part of Creighton’s 2022 Presidential Lecture Series, in which the University is welcoming prominent speakers and authors to address issues of various aspects of racial inequity in the United States.
During an engaging and personable 45-minute presentation, Tweedy cited his grandmother who died from neglected but treatable medical conditions, quoted the Rev. Martin Luther King’s statement that unequal health care ranks among the most inhumane aspects of racism, and presented statistics showing that Black people receive less psychiatric care, more emergency and inpatient care, and more involuntary treatment than other Americans.
Black people, he said, comprise just 7% of medical students in the United States and 3.5% of medical school faculties. Just 1.5% are full professors.
Tweedy said he occupies a middle ground between those who believe racial issues in the United States are resolved and those who believe no progress has been made. He is encouraged, he said, by American youth, who seem different from earlier generations in that they display a greater understanding of race issues and a determination to address them.
Progress, he said, will happen when all Americans accept their responsibility to pursue a more just society.
“What are you doing in your own space to make change happen?” he asked. “How can I make the world better than I inherited from my parents? None of us are perfect. How do we accept the idea that we can always strive to be better?”
Creighton’s Presidential Lecture Series is presented in partnership with the Kingfisher Institute for the Liberal Arts and Professions, the Division of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and the Creighton Intercultural Center.