Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dont call me "Non-White" its just racism

Human beings with any sense of intellectual prowess are known to be full of rhetorics. These rhetorics are most times their ways of either exercising their wealth of intelligence or simply showing how they can be more stupid than the rest of of us. And if it is the latter, then they find themselves in a situation where they are boxed to the corner and fighting for survival.
David Starkey on Newsnight.

One of such is Prof David Starkey the notable Historian (well many will question my use of "notable" for this honourable gentleman, but you will have to forgive me for that) behaviour during the London riot when he in his almighty stupidity argued on BBC newsnight (you can watch the video here)  that "white has become black" and that is the reason for white kids involvement in the right. 

The fury that followed was one that hell could not contain and this Professor will end up covering his head in shame. Not that it really matters when it comes to David Starkey, he was the same man that made controversial statement about gay people on BBC question time. And for clarification purpose, David himself is gay.

Now this blog is not about David in anyway and I am not sure I want to write about David. This blog is about two presentations at the just conclude British HIV Association (BHIVA) conference held in Birmingham United Kingdom. The two controversial presentations where those from Dr Anthony Mills from Los Angeles and Dr Chloe Orkin from Bart and the London NHS. 

It will be important to note that it was not the content of the presentation that made some people uncomfortable and that includes me but the ethic classification in the presentation. During his presentation on the "non- inferior efficacy and favourable safety of Quad compared to efavirenz/emtricitabine/tenofovir DF in treatment naive HIV-1 infected subjects" He classify the race as "white and non-white". I almost jumped on my seat. My immediate reaction is what really is racially non white? Black, Indians, Chinese, Hispanic or any other race that is not white? 

Also in considering metabolic assumption of HIV drugs in HIV positive people, racial classification is very important because of genetic make up. Saying white and non- white gives no explanation to what is happening to "African American" as they account for the emerging epidemic in America and likely to be on treatment and possibly react to the drugs in a different way compared to their white counterpart.

As if that was not enough insult for one day, Dr Chloe came on and made a presentation on "Efficacy, safety and pharmacokinetic results of an ongoing international phase 3 study comparing Quad with ritonavir-boosted atazanavir plus emtricitabine/tenofovir DF in treatment naive HIV-1 infected subjects at 48 weeks". In the same fashion talked about white and non white.

Angered by this blatantly act of intentional or unintentional racism, I went on twitter and vent my anger about the attitude of clinicians/researchers on not just race classification but recruitment of Black and Hispanic people into HIV trials. The reactions on twitter was nothing but that of anger and disgust. However, I did not stop there, I stood up and went to the microphone to challenged the notion of the concept of "White and non-white". 

I was not doing this to be a hero or become controversial, but to put the record straight that knowing how people are doing differently will help in designing and development of care and support service for HIV positive people from different ethnic background.

To my utter dismay, I was shocked at the way my concern was ignored not just by the researchers but by the chair of the session.

As if ignoring my concerns was not enough, afterwards, I was challenged by many clinician and researchers accusing me of raising a non issue to distract many people from the main issue of the conference.

I left Birmingham not angry, but determined to put this right once and for all. As an African living in the UK already given the Black identity I did not asked for, being tagged "non-white" in 2012 is nothing but blatant act of racism and bigoted insult.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you wrote this - and very glad you took a stand at the event. Is it okay if I share this on twitter? btw the people presenting there, aside from using the typical Public Health speak that's pretty inaccessible, weren't just inappropriate on the white/non white phrasing. The use of the term 'subjects' is also very offensive (not least in the context of HIV research) and has been out of fashion for years. It's not as much of an issue as the racist terminology but it is still showing a lack of thought about the power dynamics between the researchers and the researched. To accuse you as they did is also disgusting. Shame on them.