By Anne Pollock

In Medicating Race, Anne Pollock lines the intersecting discourses of race, prescribed drugs, and middle affliction within the usa during the last century, from the founding of cardiology in the course of the FDA's approval of BiDil, the 1st drug sanctioned to be used in a particular race.

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But at the start of the twentieth century, infectiousness was at the foreground of articulations of black disease both by racist theorists and by advocates for black health. ’’∑≤ Attempts to mete out the relative importance of constitution and environment in the infectiousness of blacks∑≥ did not contest the deep imbrications of blackness and infectiousness. ’’∑∂ Diverse political narratives and agendas could draw on this preoccupation with blacks as infectious. ∑∑ The figure of blacks as an infectious menace was profoundly stigmatizing,∑∏ yet the connection between blackness and infection cannot be simply dismissed as an invention of white supremacists.

Although the racialization of a postinfectious paradigm was mostly implicit rather than explicit, staking the future of the field in degenerative disease should be read as part of racial discourse. ∞∏ Since, as we will see, blackness was so associated with infection, the imaginary of a postinfectious medical specialty was in an important sense articulating a field that did not concern African Americans. Thus, the idea of cardiology as a field that emerged once infectious disease was held at bay was not descriptive, but deeply ideological.

Blacks’ death rate in the period was higher, but that did not make their deaths carry a valence of sacrifice for modernity. The rhetorical exclusion of black embodied experience in a modern age points to preoccupation. We might imagine that those who have the higher death rate in the modern world would be framed as the ones being sacrificed to modernity. ’’ But by denying black agency, Roberts also denies blacks the role of heroes in tragic tropes. ’’≥∫ We can see here that claims about di√erential racial susceptibility do not by themselves determine relationships between disease rates and racial superiority.

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