Uché Blackstock Is on a Mission to Root Out Racism in Medicine
The author of "Legacy" talks racial concordance, medical education, and her path to becoming a second-generation Black woman physician
For emergency medicine physician Uché Blackstock, MD ’05, “legacy” has a double meaning. On the one hand, it’s a source of pride: Uché, her twin sister, Oni, and their mother, Dale, all graduated from Harvard Medical School, making them the School’s first Black mother-daughter legacies.
But “legacy” is also a reminder of the racial inequities that Blackstock sees permeating our health care system. Today, Black people make up 13 percent of the U.S. population, while less than 3 percent of physicians are Black women. Meanwhile, according to Blackstock, Black Americans have some of the worst health outcomes of any group in the country.
Blackstock’s new memoir, Legacy: A Black Physician Reckons with Racism in Medicine, explores both of these dimensions. It traces her path from childhood to HMS to the emergency department in a Brooklyn, New York, hospital to a career in academic medicine to founding Advancing Health Equity, an organization dedicated to dismantling racism in health care. Blackstock describes how this progression opened her eyes to the profound effects of racism in our health care system and the systemic barriers that Black patients and physicians face.
Legacy is simultaneously a generational memoir, a critique of racist practices and policies in medicine, and an urgent call to action outlining concrete steps that physicians, hospitals, medical schools, and policymakers can take to build a more equitable health system.
Harvard Medicine spoke with Blackstock about the genesis of her book and her hopes for the future in this episode of The Written Word.
In this book excerpt, Blackstock reminisces about "the original Dr. Blackstock" — her mother.
Adapted from Legacy by Uché Blackstock, MD, published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright 2024 by Uché Blackstock, MD.