Recently, there was been a buzz about a pill to curb the racist tendencies of individuals. 36 white, mostly British volunteers were given a drug to combat heart disease. While on the drug, they were given a test that measured racial bias in the test-taker. Supposedly, the volunteers scored lower, implying less racial bias, while on the drug.
Beyond the fact that 36 is too tiny a sample to draw any significant conclusion (although they published their work anyway), questions abound. The most obvious question is, if the drug does work, what happens when the racist runs out of the drug? Doesn’t the very nature of being racist precludes a desire to even take the drug? Doesn’t the racist have a logic and value system that justifies racism? After all, if you know you are a racist, and don’t want to be one, wouldn’t you just stop? If you didn’t know you were a racist (which is somewhat hard to believe), but someone told you that you were racist, would you want to begin taking this drug, or continue to believe you aren’t racist?
Furthermore, why on Earth would a team studying heart conditions administer a test regarding racial bias? Certainly, to have racists view the objects of their racial hatred would start their blood boiling, but is race the most stress inducing agent in a white person’s life? It just seems to me there are a great many other issues and concerns that would cause stress which are more common parts of everyday life. Moreover, what are the implications about the researchers’ opinion about the race related attitudes of the greater white population, if their representative sample is all white and they use race to elevate their blood pressure? Is this a tacit acknowledgement that all whites are racist? If the researchers truly believe that such a small sampling can be the basis for making actionable inferences, are they painting a whole group of people in the broad swaths that disregard the individuals who aren’t reflected in the sampling?
The scenario that concerns me the most is the one where agents of some corporate, governmental or other institutional entity would seek to promote the use of such a drug among the Black population. These institutions and their Black ambassadors, under the pretense of concern over the high rate of elevated blood pressure documented among African-Americans, would attempt to get as many physicians as possible to prescribe the drug to Black people. The hope would be that Black people would not be as quick to vigorously combat anti-Black racism. Blacks still wouldn’t like the racism, they would just be less likely to do something about it. In this manner, white supremacy would be able to continue to exist and Blacks would once again be accomplices in our own oppression.
Marcus Garvey once stated (in paraphrase) that the white man’s science is the threat Black people (and white people as well, truth be told) must be on guard against going into the future. Most drugs (and a lot of foods) contain chemicals that we don’t need to live long productive lives. More often than not, a change in lifestyle is a better prescription for normalizing blood pressure. The removal of stress and improved diet would be direct results if Blacks were to be able to pursue lives free of racism. If you want to lower the high incident of elevated blood pressure in the Black community, actively fight racism!