Racism in Sports and Psychiatry

September 8, 2014

It should be clear that racism remains a major problem in the US-in sports, psychiatry, mental health treatment, and elsewhere.

PSYCHIATRIC VIEWS ON THE NEWS

Usually I read the sports section of a daily newspaper first. In the New York Times, there was no need to do so. The front page headline was "View on Race Again Prompt an N.B.A. Sale." This time, the owner of the Atlanta Hawks made racial remarks, making it clearer that the banned owner Donald Sterling was not an anomaly:

•"I think Southern whites simply were not comfortable being in an arena or at a bar where they were in the minority."

•"We all may have subtle biases and preconceptions when it comes to racism . . ."

Couple this with the recent racial unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, and it should be clear that racism remains a major problem in the US.

Despite improvements, racism also seems present in psychiatry. Minorities still tend to receive different mental health treatments. As far as I know, there has not been a "black" president of the American Psychiatric Association. Given that the responsible mental mechanisms are potentially amenable to change, psychiatry should be at the forefront of how to reduce racism.

Personally, I would recommend we no longer use the terms "white" and "black." These words are polarizing opposites that describe skin colors which essentially do not exist in the people being referenced. Instead, replace them with “lighter-skinned” and “darker-skinned.”