Why bioethics cannot figure out what to do with race

American Journal of Bioethics 7 (2):6 – 12 (2007)
Abstract
Race and religion are integral parts of bioethics. Harm and oppression, with the aim of social and political control, have been wrought in the name of religion against Blacks and people of color as embodied in the Ten Commandments, the Inquisition, and in the history of the Holy Crusades. Missionaries came armed with Judeo/Christian beliefs went to nations of people of color who had their own belief systems and forced change and caused untold harms because the indigenous belief systems were incompatible with their own. The indigenous people were denounced as ungodly, pagan, uncivilized, and savage. Hence, laws were enacted because of their perceived need to structure a sense of morality and to create and build a culture for these indigenous people of color. To date bioethics continues to be informed by a Western worldview that is Judeo/Christian in belief and orientation. However, missing from bioethical discourse in America is the historical influence of the Black Church as a cultural repository, which continues to influence the culture of Africans and Blacks. Cultural aspects of peoples of color are still largely ignored today. In attempting to deal with issues of race while steering clear of the religious and cultural impact of the Black Church, bioethics finds itself in the middle of a distressing situation: it simply cannot figure out what to do with race.
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