Reply To: Black Man in a White Coat, 54-102, 105-152

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Lauren Smith

Tweedy’s encounters with Pearl and Tina at the clinic in chapter 3 were particularly rich parts of the book. Working at the clinic was a transformative experience for Tweedy because it made him reflect on his own health struggles and the contrast between him and Pearl and Tina. Like Pearl and Tina, he has high blood pressure and had had contact with the culture from where they were coming; he was familiar with the colloquial terms of “sugar” and high-blood” because of his grandmother. Unlike Pearl and Tina, Tweedy understands “the language of medicine”, has access to university gyms and sources of healthy food, has health insurance, and has a stable doctor-patient relationship (73-74).
Here, as he does throughout the book, Tweedy weaves in historical and socioeconomic contexts to supplement his personal anecdotes. He writes “Given these glaring differences, it should come as no surprise that the poor and uninsured as a group have worse health outcomes and higher death rates than people with health insurance” (74) and goes on to cite various studies. Prior to the clinic, Tweedy had no awareness about the uninsured, but afterwards posed questions about the healthcare industry and its responsibility to people. This anecdote and statistical knowledge reveals something that’s hard to believe, that one’s chances of living or dying is heavily impacted by one’s circumstances in life.