2021 Conference | Dysaesthesia aethiopis: The Dismissal of Black Suffering & Listening to Healing



This session was part of Day two of the 2021 Humanism and Healing Conference: Structural Racism and Its Impact on Medicine, hosted by the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS).

This session featured a re-enactment of the poetic scene, entitled “To Feel no Pain” from “The Anarcha Project: J. Marion Sims and the Medical Plantation” (Core Collaborators Petra Kuppers, Anita Gonzalez, Carrie Sandahl, Tiye Giraud, Aimee Meredith Cox, 2006). The dramatists explained that “‘The Anarcha Project’ is a collaborative performance project that evokes haunting memories of three Alabama slave women who in the 1840s persevered through years of medical experimentation at the hands of J. Marion Sims, “the father of gynecology.” It criticizes the violent impact of medical racism leading to the dismissal and ignorance of Black pain. Following the scene, we hosted a panel discussion on the concepts of “dysaesthesia aethiopis” and some of the origins of racial inequities in medicine. We invited the audience to tarry with us on this subject as we transform our thinking about the nature of healing for Black communities. Aims: 1) Understand the racist historical roots of medicine and how they continue to harm Black individuals in current day healthcare settings. 2) Provide tools to shift the perspective from race-based to race-conscious medicine in order to serve individuals in accordance with their lived experiences and address the health effects of structural racism rather than perpetuate it.

The speakers:

Deena Brown, MD, Senior Associate Director, UCI Paul Merage School of Business

Kaavya Cherukuri is an MBA candidate and fourth-year medical student at UC Irvine School of Medicine Program in Medical Education for the Latinx Community (PRIME-LC).

Kaosoluchi Enendu, BS, MBA, Medical Student, University of California, Irvine- College/Medicine (GHHS Member)

Ava Runge, BS and MBA Candidate, UC Irvine Paul Merage School of Business

Johanna Shapiro, PhD, Director, Program in Medical Humanities & Arts, Family Medicine
School of Medicine, UC Irvine (GHHS member)

Tiffany Willoughby-Herard, PhD, Associate Professor, African American Studies. University of California, Irvine


More about the 2021 conference: