The Myth of Innate Racial Differences Between White and Black People's Bodies: Lessons From the 1793 Yellow Fever Epidemic in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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  • Author(s): Hogarth, Rana Asali
  • Source:
    American Journal of Public Health (AM J PUBLIC HEALTH), Oct2019; 109(10): 1339-1341. (3p)
  • Publication Type:
    Article
  • Language:
    English
  • Additional Information
    • Affiliation:
      Rana Asali Hogarth is with the Department of History, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
    • Subject Terms:
    • Subject Terms:
    • Abstract:
      In this commentary, I take up the question of why beliefs in fundamental, innate racial differences between Black and White people's bodies persist in medical discourse, despite evidence to the contrary. I locate the origin of some of these beliefs in the infamous yellow fever epidemic that struck Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1793. During that early public health crisis, White physicians and lay people erroneously thought that Black people were immune to yellow fever because of their race. I then highlight the efforts of Philadelphia's Black leaders during the epidemic—namely Absalom Jones and Richard Allen—to challenge the belief in fundamental and innate differences between Blacks and Whites. I conclude by asking us to consider how the false belief that there is something peculiar about Black people's bodies has become a feature, not an aberration, in the production of medical knowledge. Indeed, I point out how medical experimentation in the 20th century and in the marketing of new drugs in the 21st century have been buttressed by this persistent yet incorrect assumption that innate racial differences exist.
    • Journal Subset:
      Biomedical; Core Nursing; Double Blind Peer Reviewed; Nursing; Peer Reviewed; Public Health; USA
    • ISSN:
      0090-0036
    • MEDLINE Info:
      NLM UID: 1254074
    • Publication Date:
      20190907
    • Publication Date:
      20190914
    • Accession Number:
      http://dx.doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2019.305245
    • Accession Number:
      138432101
  • Citations
    • ABNT:
      HOGARTH, R. A. The Myth of Innate Racial Differences Between White and Black People’s Bodies: Lessons From the 1793 Yellow Fever Epidemic in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. American Journal of Public Health, [s. l.], v. 109, n. 10, p. 1339–1341, 2019. DOI 10.2105/AJPH.2019.305245. Disponível em: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=ccm&AN=138432101&custid=s6224580. Acesso em: 16 dez. 2019.
    • AMA:
      Hogarth RA. The Myth of Innate Racial Differences Between White and Black People’s Bodies: Lessons From the 1793 Yellow Fever Epidemic in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. American Journal of Public Health. 2019;109(10):1339-1341. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2019.305245.
    • APA:
      Hogarth, R. A. (2019). The Myth of Innate Racial Differences Between White and Black People’s Bodies: Lessons From the 1793 Yellow Fever Epidemic in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. American Journal of Public Health, 109(10), 1339–1341. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2019.305245
    • Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date:
      Hogarth, Rana Asali. 2019. “The Myth of Innate Racial Differences Between White and Black People’s Bodies: Lessons From the 1793 Yellow Fever Epidemic in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.” American Journal of Public Health 109 (10): 1339–41. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2019.305245.
    • Harvard:
      Hogarth, R. A. (2019) ‘The Myth of Innate Racial Differences Between White and Black People’s Bodies: Lessons From the 1793 Yellow Fever Epidemic in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’, American Journal of Public Health, 109(10), pp. 1339–1341. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2019.305245.
    • Harvard: Australian:
      Hogarth, RA 2019, ‘The Myth of Innate Racial Differences Between White and Black People’s Bodies: Lessons From the 1793 Yellow Fever Epidemic in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’, American Journal of Public Health, vol. 109, no. 10, pp. 1339–1341, viewed 16 December 2019, .
    • MLA:
      Hogarth, Rana Asali. “The Myth of Innate Racial Differences Between White and Black People’s Bodies: Lessons From the 1793 Yellow Fever Epidemic in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.” American Journal of Public Health, vol. 109, no. 10, Oct. 2019, pp. 1339–1341. EBSCOhost, doi:10.2105/AJPH.2019.305245.
    • Chicago/Turabian: Humanities:
      Hogarth, Rana Asali. “The Myth of Innate Racial Differences Between White and Black People’s Bodies: Lessons From the 1793 Yellow Fever Epidemic in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.” American Journal of Public Health 109, no. 10 (October 2019): 1339–41. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2019.305245.
    • Vancouver/ICMJE:
      Hogarth RA. The Myth of Innate Racial Differences Between White and Black People’s Bodies: Lessons From the 1793 Yellow Fever Epidemic in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. American Journal of Public Health [Internet]. 2019 Oct [cited 2019 Dec 16];109(10):1339–41. Available from: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=ccm&AN=138432101&custid=s6224580