Frances Kendall, M.D.
The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
I want to welcome you to what's the first of our second round of diversity forums. Some of you may remember that last year we had a number of forums on a number of different topics. And the purpose of those forums was to basically make people aware of what M. D. Anderson is. M. D. Anderson is a great institution. It is also an institution that consists of a wide variety of individuals from different backgrounds and different life histories. The purpose of the forums this year is actually to move from the is to the isms and talk about some of the problems we have when we bring people from different backgrounds together and try to work towards a single purpose. The first of these forums today is on racism. And for our speaker we have Dr. Francis Kendall.
Francy and I have known each other for a decade now, and some of you may actually, also know her, because five years ago she came to M. D. Anderson to help us do some focus groups on what the climate was here in the institution. I didn't realize it was that long, but you were here like one week a month for a year and a half, right? So she knows the institution pretty well. She knows some of the individuals in the audience pretty well. And she spent most of her life dealing with the issue of racism. She has a Ph.D. in Education and Organizational Change from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. And as I said a the morning session, she's worked with folks at Michigan State, Miami University, as well as the U.S. Marine Corp. So I figure she can handle M.D. Anderson pretty well. So with that introduction, Francy.
Greetings. It's really a treat to be back here having spent a great deal of time here, and talked to lots, and lots, and lots, of folks both in the interview process and in the focus group process. This is an organization that I feel like I've had the opportunity to study. That was my second experience with M. D. Anderson. My first is growing up. I grew up in Waco, Texas, in a family that is riddled with cancer. And so I've been a member of studies that have been done here at M. D. Anderson, particularly on colon cancer. I was a, part of a study for a long time. And so M. D. Anderson has always been a household word, in some ways I'm sorry to say, in my family. So when I came back to work with Harry in creating the Office of Institutional Diversity, it was really great to have the opportunity to come back and do something useful, as opposed to coming back for reasons that were inevitably, at least distressing, and in most cases sad. I also want to say one other thing, just because I was thinking about it earlier. I do work with organizations all over the country as Harry said. And M. D. Anderson has, remains the, remains key in all of my experiences.
And that is that for me and my experience M. D. Anderson all of the people who work at M. D. Anderson, whether they are mowing grass, planting flowers, making decisions, doing radiation, or researchers, or senior administrators, I've never been in an organization where the mission and the purpose was so clear to everyone who works here. And it was a very interesting; I actually talk about you all in that way. It's a very interesting phenomenon, because that's not usually the experience. But everybody was clear that if they were mowing the grass or planting flowers that patients had different experiences here than if they hadn't been here to do that. So that was sort of floating around in my mind. We're going to talk about something that's not very comfortable to talk about, generally speaking. Particularly for those of us, I think, who are white. And that is we're going to talk about racism. And I'll come back to intent behavior and impact. Now maybe I have to move out from the podium to do this, I don't know. Good. I want to start. Am I okay out here as long as I'm still in the light and? Okay, good.
I want to start with the definition of racism, because I think often we confuse it with bigotry, prejudice, discrimination. And it's really something that's very different. And since there's some of you who were here this morning, I'll use different examples so that you won't get bored. The first definition is from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Racism is an institutional structure, an action or attitude that has the power to subordinate a person or group, because of his, her, or their color. These people are not allowed to do X, Y, and Z, because of his, her, or their color, covenance in neighborhoods and housing areas after the GI Bill. I think I actually put this piece in about the GI Bill, which was supposed to be for all soldiers who had fought in World War II. But in reality the GI Bill really only severed those who were white, because there were covenant, convenance in neighborhoods or realtors and banks wouldn't lend to African Americans and Latinos. And so it was, the out come was very different. I actually think that's on one of my history slides. The second definition; a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among various human races determined cultural or individual achievement. Usually involving the idea that ones own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
Race is an odd phenomenon. A race does not exist biologically. I am more likely, or equally as likely to share DNA, or a common DNA patter with this person whose color is very different from mine, than I am with this person who's color is more like mine. So it's, it is what we call in the academy, a social construct. There's a really easy nickel way to talk about this. We made it up. And those people who were in power made it up in order to maintain power. And so race is not really something. The same is actually true also of sex and gender. The same is true of sexual orientation. The same is true of religion, of socioeconomic class in terms of the ability to move forward the idea that one's own race is superior, and that that race has the right to rule others. The third is a policy system of government, institutionally supported behavior, etc, based on fostering such as doctrine. So you have, really, definitions at three different levels. Then there're different kinds of racism or fascists of racism. The first is institutional racism; racism that is built into laws, policies, procedures, structures, and systems. In our societies structures those of us who are part of the mainstream are regular read white.
Group, don't see ourselves as personally responsible for, or even personally connected to its perpetuation. It seems I look at the drug laws, I live in California now, as I said, I think I grew, I think I said I grew up in Waco, Texas, but I live now in California. And the drug laws in the California are very clearly biased in terms of race. So that someone who uses a small amount of crack cocaine, usually African American and Latino folks are put in prison for a long period. Those who use powder cocaine have to be carrying a huge amount, a much, much greater amount of powered cocaine in order to, to get the same sentence. That's a, but if you come to me and say let's talk about the drug laws. I can say, Oh, well, you know, that doesn't have anything to do with me. I voted against it. Etc. Etc. Etc. So that I don't feel like I'm really connected to it all, even though people who looked like me created those laws, put them into place. Cultural racism is racism that is so much part of who we are and what we do that it looks normal. It out, and this is a really important piece, it out lives any single individual, and pervades the thinking, speech, and actions of whole groups of people, so that the, the pace of it out living things, out living individuals is important. I remember, or if you talk about, if you talk about Vietnamese, for example, and Mong immigrants, the initial notion was that, you know, these were folks who weren't going to be able to anything.
They weren't going to be able to, first of all they were clearly Communists, and they were not, so or they were not good people. They were our enemies, etc. etc. etc. And so even as we've moved into a very different generation, there are still many people who see Vietnamese as being the enemy, as being those who take jobs away from other people. Experience it in Texas in terms of fisherman and fishing families. We experience it in California where UCLA as commonly spoken of as the university of Caucasians lost among Asians. So the notion is, and we've tried to fix that actually by removing affirmative action from our schools. We always like to be on the cutting edge, we in California. So we tired to fix that by removing affirmative action, because the notion was that then our white kids would have better access to the university systems in California. In fact, it's very different. So that UC Berkley Cal, it's called, Cal now has 43% of their entering classes, 43, 46 are Asian. So the anti Asian sentiment in California, as it is in Texas, is enormous. We're seeing lots and, so and that's built into the culture. It's just sort of, you know, you ask people when they; who are the bad drivers? Who are the bad drivers in Texas? Who have they identified bad drivers? Who? What group is the bad, the bad drivers? Whites?
In California it is Asian people who are the bad drivers. And you, people, you know people look like they are intelligent. Say, Oh, you know, I was, God I was just driving down the road and this Asian woman pulled in front of me and I nearly had to, you know, and I had to slam on my breaks. And these, you know, are folks who are, that's cultural racism dealt into the culture. It's also revealed in casual racial stereotyping and expressions like sitting Indian style, or counting Native Americans as if they were objects when we sing, One little, two litter, three little Indians, so much part of our culture that we do not think about it. Even those people who have been objects of racism in other ways find themselves singing, saying, let's sit Indian style, as though there is one way. Let's have Chinese fire drill. Let's have a Mexican standoff, etc. etc. etc., all of that language. Cultural racism. Personal racism is a hard one to talk about, because we would like to pretend that there really isn't such thing. But person, personal racism is, are the behaviors of persons in the dominant racial group, in this country that's white folks, that negatively impact people of color and are backed by the institutions of which the white people are a part.
So this morning I talked about police officers doing racial profiling and stopping folks purely on the basis of their skin color. We see it, I'm on planes a lot, and so I see it every day in airports where an interesting and surprisingly high percentage, and I'm saying this obviously tongue in check, of people who are searched before they are go onto airplanes are Middle Eastern. It's also an interesting phenomenon that before, on September 10, 2001, Middle Eastern people were considered white. And on September 12th, they had moved from being not only not white, to being the most dangerous, they then moved ahead of African American men who were seen as the most dangerous on September 10th, to September 12th when clearly it was Middle Eastern folks. And even, and this is how we are so complicated and so, the system is so, so complicated. So on September 12th we had African Americans and Latinos who had before been the, the victims of racial profiling saying, yes it's fine to racially profile Middle Eastern folks, they're dangerous to us. Like what you forget in two days about what that system looks like? So the carrying out of that if you are backed up by an institution is personal racism.
Racism that you, that is institutionalized, but that you carry it out and your institution backs it up. Teachers, who in Texas when it was against the law for Spanish speaking children to speak Spanish, teachers who reported children who spoke Spanish to the principle or to whomever were exhibiting personal racism. Their institution backed them up. So the racism is institutionalized, the carrier, those who are the carriers of those policies and procedures, whether they want to or not, are committing acts of personal racism by carrying out those policies. Does that make sense? Okay. So it occurred to me, because I am a very, the more I work, and this has been work I've been doing for 35 years probably. The more I work the clearer I am that I need to be a historian. I think those of us in the United States are so A historical. We act as though yesterday was the first day of our lives. And, and so I've begun to really feel like I need to study history and make connections. And so as I was preparing this I thought, it's very important to make connections between history, the present social affect. And then I thought because I was gonna do something else on healthcare affect that I would tag them all together and talk to them, talk about them all at the same time.
Because very often white people say to me, well so it's fine that your family had slaves, which they did; my families in the cotton business. And it's fine that they were members of the Ku Klux Klan. That was a really long time ago. And we don't have slavery anymore. That was then, this is now. What's the big beef? Yes so we sent undocumented workers back to Mexico through the Brasaro Program rounding them up literally, and shipping them back after we had rounded them up to bring them here to do work, because we didn't want them here any longer. So, you know, what's your point? Well let's talk about what the affect is of all of those things. So I chose four, I think I have four different pieces about history and want to make those connections with you. The first piece, by the mid 1800's no fewer than 12 million Africans had been brought to the New World to be used solely for the purpose of providing free labor for white people and their institutions. That was the only reason we brought them. And in fact, we started out, the first enslaved people were white people, but we couldn't tell when they ran away, and so, almost literally. So it's like, oops, that wasn't a good strategy. Let's rethink this. Oh, look. And I'm being obviously grim, but, and so, by the mid 1800's no fewer than 12 million, 12 million, no fewer than 12 million Africans had been brought. That does not include those who died in the middle passage.
A number that is estimated between 32 million and 60 million who died. Now, so that's the mid 1800's. What does that have to do with me today, November 30th, is I think that's what today is. November 30, 2004, what does that have to do? Well let's look. So in terms of present social affect the descendants of this massive number of enslaved black people continue to struggle against the perception that they contribute little to society as a whole. If what you have done for most of your life is to work for free, and most of our nation if you look at the work that, that black people, brown people, and Asian people have done, most of our nation, the reason we're such a wealthy country, one of the reasons, is that all of that work was done for free, or done at very, very inexpensive rates. So that, for example, the Chinese people who built the railroads and were often the ones who were sent down to, into the tunnels to, and with dynamite strapped to them to be exploded to see if it was gonna work, they were paid much less than the Irish people who were also used to build railroads. So that present social affect, then the present healthcare affect there are cultural and institutional remnants of slavery era, African Americans. Is that okay? Okay! Great!
African Americans have a higher infant mortality rate, are less likely to receive even the basic clinical services, such as intensive care that white Americans do, and have a higher death rate than white patients do when you take away, in hospitals, when you take away all other possible variables. Just, in other words, insurance, not insurance, socioeconomic class, etc. African Americans die at 2 to 3 times the rate that white people; white patients do in hospitals. So here's another one. Built into the U.S. Constitution in Article 1, section 2, you don't have to go very far, is the determination that African slaves would count as three-fifths of a person for purposes of representation. That is as less than a whole human being. It was called the three-fifths compromise. Now what is that, that was then, 1789. What's the present social affect? The racialized system of the superiority of white people, which was what was built in right there. And in fact, if you don't see it just with that, the white indentured servants who could by themselves out of slavery were considered whole people, as where Indians, interestingly. It's a whole other conversation. But the people who had bought, brought from Africa were considered three-fifths of a person.
This was initially set into law by the Constitution, but it's been built into the working of every institutional system; education, healthcare, judicial systems, law enforcement, legal, financial, housing, and so on. In every single institution those of us who are white, even if we don't feel that we are superior are institutionally considered a superior race. And remember a race is a social construct. The present healthcare affect. Due to their low social status in the U.S., African Americans have lacked protection from being victims of experimentation by medical institutions and government agencies. For example, the Tuskegee study is most notable, but certainly not the only example of this practice where 400 men were, who had syphilis, were taken from Macon County, Alabama, and were told that they were being treated for syphilis. They were never treated for syphilis. They wanted to see the affects of syphilis on a person as he or she, as he in this instance, there were 400 men died. It's resulted in African Americans basic distrust of healthcare personnel in institutions. So what does this have to do with us at M. D. Anderson? Well part of what it has to do with us at M. D. Anderson is that when you have African American patients, or, and people coming into the hospital, chances are good that they're not, they're coming in in some ways, and we don't always know, but we need to know that this is a possibility.
They're coming in in some ways with the feeling that I know that M. D. Anderson can do things that other hospitals can't. We know that. And what if I'm chosen because of my race to get the placebo and not the real drug? And so there's often that question of distrust, whether it's rooted in reality or not. It's important to know about that feeling. Another one, from the mid 1800's to the early 1900's, during and after reconstruction, African Americans were kept from owning land. It was illegal to own land, getting credit or loans, or gaining higher levels of education. In many places it was illegal for African Americans to go to schools. They were moved into service jobs. And this is an interesting piece that we often are not paying attention to, that is, waiting on or doing supportive work for others. And in contrast most white immigrants were given skills enhancing jobs, from which they could generate their own businesses. So African Americans and Latino's were mainly moved into service jobs. Most Asian's, and I'm saying most, because I'm wondering what happened at the beginning of Asians coming into California before the Chinese Exclusion Act. I don't know the answer to that. But, but most Asian immigrants afterwards were moved into jobs, as well as certainly most white immigrants, where they could create their own businesses, and create their own, gain more skills to work.
That was not true of the African Americans and Latino's. So what's this present social affect? Why do I need to know this? Well African Americans, Latino's, and Native Americans continue to hold predominantly low paying service jobs. In contrast to white people who dominate the managerial and owning levels of business. So by having the history and knowing the impact, then I'm, when I'm left at the place of, are black and brown people just dumber? Did they not get the bootstraps to pull themselves up by? Etc. If I have the history I can then say, so let's ask some other questions here. History really provides us the opportunity to ask different questions. The present healthcare affect, given the difficulty of a massing any wealth, and that's different from money. Wealth is something that can be inherited, money generally speaking as you're, have a high paying job, but you don't own property, you don't own stock, etc. Many African Americans and other people of color are unable to afford to live in neighborhoods that are free from health hazards, such as toxic dumps and industrial waste, buy healthier foods, or have health insurance. Recent statistic, 2 or 3 years old.
What percentage do you think of people, of people who live in hazardous neighborhoods where there toxic dumps, where there's huge, where there're huge electrical plants, etc. What percentage of those folks do you think are of color? People who live in hazardous neighborhoods for some reason or another in the United States. 75% of people who live in hazardous neighborhoods today or, or a year ago when this study was published, are of color. How do we make this information useful? How do we push ourselves to learn more, to rethink things that we know? So we come back to intent, behavior, and impact. Our fantasy is, which is the first slide on your page. Our fantasy is that it is our intent that matters. That if we don't mean to do something that is harmful, if we don't mean to practice personal racism, etc., etc., then we can't be held responsible for what we do. Intent is usually what we judge ourselves by. Didn't mean to. I'm really, really sorry. I didn't mean to. I didn't mean to kick you in the shin. I didn't mean to drop this glass and break it. I didn't mean to. I didn't mean to. It wasn't my intent. If I drop a glass, even though I don't mean to, is the glass still broken? Yeah! If I kick somebody in the shin, even though I didn't mean to, does that shin still hurt?
Yeah! So rather than focusing on intent, we do much better to focus on behavior, which is often what we judge others by, their behavior. So we judge ourselves by our intent. I'm a well, and how often do we hear people say, well, you know they're really, they have a good heart, they're really well intention. Well that's an interesting piece of information. But it doesn't have anything to do with the impact of their behavior, usually. So the second thing we have to do is look at our behaviors, and then the impact of those behaviors. And let me give you some examples before I set you to work, cause in a minute that's exactly what I'm gonna do. From here one of the, it, it's astonishing to think that this, all of the information from the focus groups that I heard is 5 years old, because it's still seared into my mind. It's one of the hazards of doing focus groups, because it's, you're gonna have information that is just often very heavy. So in one I was asked to do some work while I was here with one department and to work with their nurses. And the question came up, as it often does, of whether English is the language that has to be spoken, particularly by Philipina's, Philipino's.
Can they speak Tagalog at work? And of course everything is very complicated, because how Philipino's got here to be nurses is one set of conversations. Why most of, but not all, but many more nurses are Philipino than they are African American, and while many more aids, I believe this is accurate, are African American than other folks. So what, you know, so who were in this conversation about speaking, what language to use. And there were a couple of nurses who said if you are in America you need to speak English. And that's what you have to do. There were other people in focus groups who said, and if you can't speak English you need to just get out of Texas, which I thought was a pretty interesting phenomenon. Now is my intent potentially to cause, you know, to really kick people out? No! But my intent is to get people to speak English. And the behavior is to say, you know, only, you know, good people speak English, other people don't. Has the enormous impact of often removing people's ability, people for whom English is their second, third, fifth, twelfth language to remove from them the ability to be successful.
One of the things that we did, that I worked with the science folks about was, what are the needs and expectations of doctors who come to this country and English is really their second, or fifth, or twenty-third, or you know, language. What about their publishing? How do they publish? What's the, is the intent of the magazines to keep people for whom English is not their first language away from writing? My hunch is that it's not conscious. But the behavior and the impact of that, the expecting, the expectations to be able to write as perfectly in English as one can write in ones own first of second language, has the impact of keeping some from publishing in ways others are much more easily published. The last sheet say, interrupting a difficult situation. To determine how best to respond to a difficult situation, meaning a situation that feels like it's filled with conflict, it's filled with conversations about race, you don't know what to do. Uh oh, somebody makes a really dumb comment. Somebody makes a really racist comment, but you don't know what to do. Here are eight steps.
The first is to describe the situation. Here's what happens. And these are steps you would follow to yourself. Identify your options for responding, because often we think we only have one way to respond. Had I been here last week I probably would have talked about the Thanksgiving day dinner table, because that's often where things like this happen amongst families. Identify your goal of your action. So I describe the situation. My options are I can run screaming from the room, which I often did from the dining room table, I can shut up and those are sort of the options. And then there's a gamut of options in between. What is my goal? Is my goal to, you know, blow these folks out of the water? To speak harshly to my, to my supervisor, because I haven't spoken for five years and I've just let something go all, go, you know, tried to let it bead like water off my back, etc. So my goal, I need to know what my goal is. Determine which action will best achieve my goal given the costs and benefits of each option. So leaving the dinner table and opening the door to walk out after it had been locked and chained meant that one of my costs was that I had to replace that chain on the door.
I was just a teenager in, you know, passion of the moment and everything. I would, of course, never do that now. But the point is I need to know what the cost and benefits are. If I say something that is going to be perceived as over the top to my supervisor, what would the cost be of that? And what would the benefits be? Outline strategies about, by thinking about why, when, where, what, and how. Describe what happened when you applied your strategies, and then do an evaluation. What were the strong points of your approach to this situation? And what were the weak points of this approach to your, in this situation. And then make some additional notes. One of the things we really wanted to do, even though we didn't have very much time was that we wanted to give you a couple of tools to use. And we thought that this might be a particularly useful one, because this is really often where we get stuck. Like somebody, I was in a meeting, or I was in, you know, and somebody said, so and so and so and so. And I didn't have a clue about what to do, and so I did nothing. And so we thought that having some sort of tool might be useful.
Questions, comments, thoughts, anything that pops up as you've been sitting and listening, or as you were in your conversations with others? What kinds of, what kinds of questions came up? What kinds of things stuck in your mind? What kinds of things stuck in your crawl? And old Texas expression, I couldn't say that very well probably in Massachusetts and have them know what I meant. And I think because we're a little bit short on, we need to do that don't we? If you would go actually to the microphone. And then here's the reason we're gonna be really sticklers about this, is that the people in Smithville, and Bastroff are listening to this conversation. And so it's really important that they get the questions as well as the answers. And so, and so going to the microphones is important. And there are two microphones, one on either side. So your question is?
It's not really a question. It's more like something that stuck in my crawl, as you said. First of all let me say I work in languages, and languages evolve. And I think everything evolves. And you mentioned something about history changing, you know, your family owned slaves, but you don't own them any more, etc. etc. I have sort of a problem or, let's say; I don't know a problem, a question or a doubt about cultural racism. When you say that cultural racism is revealed in the casual racial stereotyping, sitting like an Indian, or one, two little, three little Indians. Does it mean that I cannot see the word picnic any more?
Actually picnic, it's interesting, because this is sort of a, there's a great website that I'm not gonna forget the name of, but it has to do with urban legends. Actually picnic is a French word. And picnic comes from a French word, and doesn't have anything to do, really, with race. But let's just say, does this mean I can't say any longer, I got jipped? Let's say, does this mean I can't say any longer, they really Jewed me down? So those two are easy, the answer's no. And so those, those ones are pretty easy, because they're very easy to identify. They're connected directly to stereotypes. Being Jewed down, obviously, connected to Jews. And the stereotype of monetary systems being jipped is actually connected to Gypsies, which the preferred name actually is Romany. They came from a, there was a group of people who came from a specific part of Eastern Europe, etc. etc. etc. So then I go into more, a little more complicated ones.
The English language has 66 synonyms, negative synonyms for the word black, and 44 positive synonyms for the word white. And there's lots and lots of research that shows that, in fact, that language affects how children, for instance, view black and white people. And so that's today. That's not that was then, that's today. So for me the issue is one of building relationships. And if I want to have, for example, a relationship with a Jewish person, if I am constantly saying things like, I really Jewed them down. You know, that, I really blah, blah, blah. Chances are good that my relationship is not going to be too strong.
Because I haven't paid attention to the, my intent is might not be to, you know, to harm. But the impact of my behavior is, you know, look Francy, pay attention to what you're language is. So language is actually an extremely, end language is power. Lillian Smith, who's a wonderful writer, a white woman, wonderful writer. Gave a talk in the early 40's, mid 40's, maybe it was later than that. Maybe it was more like the early 60's. And the title of the talk at a graduation ceremony of some college or university in Georgia, was the winner names the age. Language is, we speak the language, there's another great book titled, I speak the language of the oppressor, because the, because it is the only one I know. So language embedded in language is the power to determine what something will be called, and what something isn't. We call Vietnam, instead of Vietnam War a conflict, because we didn't win. And we get to talk about it as we, as we want to see it. Robin and, we talk, if you start thinking in terms of sexism, and you just start looking at the words that apply to men as opposed to women, there aren't. And, and the oppression, they're aren't, there aren't comparisons.
We can't, there are no words for men that equal, that are as bad as some of the, you know, the C word, the P word, the B word, they don't have those words for men, because men made up our language. And, and, you know, I don't, that's not glib, that's accurate. And so language is really important. If I want to communicate with someone and build authentic relationships, I'm going to watch my language. I'm going to watch how often I talk about, you know, black Sundays. Or it was really a black day. Or, yeah, that person we really yellow. I'm gonna watch those pieces. And so does it mean i can't say it? I'm gonna be careful when I talk about rule of thumb. Anybody know what rule of thumb is? A thumb, the rule of thumb was that you couldn't beat; a man couldn't beat his wife with a stick bigger than your thumb. So I'm going to educate myself about language, because language is power. Does it mean I can't say that? No! It doesn't. But it means that if I want to be in authentic relationship with someone, then I have to constantly be looking at language. And I have to be constantly aware of the impact of my behavior. Does that make sense? Yeah, but. Yeah! It's right. I think people who deal with languages relate struggle.
Yeah, well, I don't know if it's realistic to expect everybody or anybody, including yourself of your own, to be watching every single thing you say. I mean I say rule of thumb every day.
Well so here's an opportunity. I think it is pretty realistic to watch what we say.
I'm not, I'm not going to go slurring everybody. I'm, I'm from Argentina, I'm not liked. And I, I have experienced some discrimination too. But it's, it's, I don't know, not being able to say with your two year old, one little, two little, three little Indians, because it's not constructive to a positive relationship with the...
Well let's talk. Actually what you're. Good. So let's talk about that specific one. Because I, we count native Americans, one little, two little, three little Indians, as though they were objects. What did we do to that group of people besides genocide? Oh, yeah, that. We have, we have taken away all of their power. And you'll probably be very happy to know that I won't start listing treaties that I've been studying recently. We've taken away all of their power, all of their land. We have rendered them, we have taken away their tribes, they're tribe, I mean we can't even, there's not even enough we can say. So, and, one little, two little, three little Indians started out as a song, one little, two little, three little N word. so it wasn't always that we were counting Indians, before that we were counting black folks. So what we need to understand is that my behavior, and this is where personal racism comes in, my behavior, if I am of the dominate group as a white person, my behavior supports through my language, supports that racism that is kept in place. And so can I sing, one little, two little, three little Indians to my kids? Sure. What messages am I sending to my child when I start counting people as, as objects?
The other piece is that there's a really very, I really disturbing book, but very important, titled the First R, and it's by Joe Fagen and Debra Van Osdale. And it's about how three and four-year-old children of all colors, because our fantasy is, of course, you know children don't notice race or color. Which is, we've known since 1957, and Mary Ellen Goodmans research that that's not true. But we still sort of tell ourselves that story. But the forth R shows how children at 3 or 4 can already, already know what institutional system and oppression looks like. And can reenact it. So that the wife child pulling the wagon with other children says to an Asian child, You can't pull the wagon. You're not white. Oh, three or four. So it's a really disturbing, but very important piece of research. So do we have to be careful every day? I would say, you bet! And I could go to, and I don't see that for, for me what that's about is, will I screw up every day. I'll be working on my own racism till long after I'm dead. Way long after I'm dead. And so it's not like I want to move to perfection, because I'm never, that's not even for me a goal. But it, I'm, I'm not interested in not paying attention in the ways that I perpetuate it. So I don't think it's actually a whole lot to ask.
I certainly know that it's not a lot to ask of myself. Because I feel like that's a part of my journey, and I don't really think it's a lot to ask of other people. And, in fact, let me go further. I don't think it's a lot to expect of others in an institution that says it will work on these issues period! That has said from the president down, hieratically speaking. The issue of diversity is an important one at M. D. Anderson, because we need to create to be able to hire and retain, to recruit and retain the very best there is. We need to provide an opportunity where we can retain people who work here. So what, what you do, so I'm gonna go a little bit, I'm gonna go a little bit farther here, knowing that I have two vice presidents sitting in the room. And that is that this is an institution that's made a commitment. So what you do on your own time, I think I'm backed by saying this. I'm looking up at Harry and hoping that he'll let me know. What you do on your own time is your business. What you do on your work time is M. D. Anderson's business. And so then we move to, so what behaviors are gonna work, what aren't.
How do we, how do we hold that? How do we know? And if the goal, it's not about just punitive stuff, but if the goal is to build an institution where people can be successful when they work here, when you really can make cancer history, because you feel good enough to bring your gifts to where you work, then it becomes, then it becomes a bottom line issue, and it becomes M. D. Anderson's business about what it's employees say. Yeah? Yes. I'm also from Latin America. And I have two questions for you. I sort of have an idea of what she meant, because I also feel the same way. I grew up in a country where we have many races, and religions, and all kinds of differences among people, and yet I never, I was very nieve when I arrived here and I never had experienced all these political correctness, and names that you can and cannot say. And things like that that, honestly, I had never experienced before. And we, we don't have these problems. And so my question to you is, Why do you think in the United States this is such a problem of racism where people live in other countries not with this problem as for now? I'm not saying that individuals. Right. So let's talk a little bit about Latin America.
Let me. Let me.
Just carry it just one more and then you can answer.
You bet. You bet.
The other thing is that my experience in this institution is that whenever we need to do a brochure to send out in Spanish we need to have a certain look, the stereotypical person that in the, in the eyes of the American people are this, are the Spanish speaking crowd. Well I am Hispanic. The lady that just left who doesn't look Hispanic at all is also Hispanic. It is offensive sometimes to think. And so you guys here, in general, are creating more drawn straight lines about what is, what is the stereotypical of what one should look like versus the other, and creating more division by applying those kinds of rules and letting, you know, a blond, blue eyed Argentina be on the cover of a Hispanic brochure.
And this is what I find that is gone kind of over the top, over here in general as a culture in the United States. I really don't think that that's the sentiment anywhere else. You know, we are used to having people of every color, and we work with them. And, yeah, we have discrimination, but it seems to be more based, at least in my opinion, on economics than
So let me connect those two things.
And thank you, and thank you for your, both of your comments. Let me connect those two things. Cause here's something; this is one of the reasons that history is vital for us to remember. When the Europeans came to the United States they also went other places. They also colonized other places. And in particular they went to Central and South America, Mexico, Central, South America. Which were countries then filled with dark skinned people. They were filled. Their indigenous people are dark skinned. They're Indians. They were just different tribes of Indians. And so we end up with, in fact, a very similar format of racism in Central and South American countries as we do in the United States. So that people, and it, and it is red in Central and South American countries as class. Or in Cuba we see a person who was, you know, just identified today as the Secretary of Commerce who's of Cuban. The question is whether he would identify himself as a white Cuban, read those who left Cuba to quote, unquote flea Castro, or whether he would see himself as a Cuban. I don't know that about them.
But I do know that racism is as existent, exists as much in Central and South America as it does in the United States. That we talk about those who are beautiful, not as the native folks, but as blond haired, blue eyed folks. In other words they look more like Europeans than they look like their real ancestors in that country. Otherwise we talk about them as half-breeds or Mestizos and we think less of them. So that same, and those who are blond haired and blue eyed, lighter skinned, etc. etc. have had the opportunity, class wise, to rise in the, in the nation. So you're absolutely right, just as they have here. You're absolutely right that it is a phenomenon of class, and is also very much a phenomenon of race. And that can be said of any country that is, has been colonized. So that's the first piece. I think the second piece is that we don't, those of us who live in this country are not so clear by history. And so, and we might know more about Mexico than we know about Guatemala, or El Salvador, or Argentina, or whatever. But it's important to pay attention to if you turn on a Spanish speaking station, television station.
Chances are good, not always, that you're gonna get somebody as the anchor, or as the weather person, or as the, you know, blah, blah, who's gonna look much more blond haired and blue eyed, or green eyed than people who originally came from there. So I think it's, for me we have to be very intentional about the way in which colonization played out there. Now, are we more concerned about race here? Maybe. And why would that be? Because it's so much part of our history that we intentionally not once or twice, but three or five times that I could, you know, to African Americans, enslaving them; to native Americans, killing them all as many as we could; to Chinese Americans and other Asians, but particularly Chinese people and excluding them from the Chinese Exclusion Act, to particularly Mexicano's who we lied to. Took their land. We did tell them they could remain white. And so that's why we get the, the non-Hispanic white. Because in the Treaty of Guadalupe, Hidalgo [phonetic] we told them that they could be called white and we left them be called white. We still took their land. They're still laborers. But we, you know.
So we have to, we have over, and over, and over again, we certainly, we intern the Japanese how quickly I just about left that one go. So we have a nation that is riddled with racism, and it is not a conversation we have. And so I think that's part of, and I don't know as much about Central and South America, I know a lot. I know that it was our CIA who killed, you know, who taught folks to, you know, we're deeply implicated with, so...
What I, what I meant to say though is that there is just not that division there as, as people mark here. And yet in my, in my opinion, creates more division by calling it out to, okay you belong to this group. And this group needs to have this person on the cover to attract that group. Instead of integrating people, you're separating it by the fact that you're calling out these specific groups; identifying and separating them out that way.
So I would say that, in fact, that we are already separate. And that, in fact, even including pictures of, this, that's something that M. D. Anderson has not always done. That if you look at when I, so...
Well in this country they want to do that. They want to have these photos of all these people.
Right. I think it's about acknowledging. But I would also say, and we're not gonna talk about this, but I would also encourage you to look back at if you were talking about Latino's, or Central and South American folk, how many indigenous people do you see in positions of power? So I think it's not accurate that there's not racism there. Just another kind of question.
Here in American we got a little bit advanced and knowledgeable.
Hold on just a second. This person's been standing at the microphone. So you can speak after this person is finished. Go.
Actually, I just had two questions. I'm big on history statistics and also higher awareness, which is what I think this, is what this class...
Higher awareness. Which I think this is what this about.
But I have two questions related to, I guess, statistics and, and history. One is, currently how close are whites to being a minority with diversity on the rise that it, that it's on?
Well what percentage, just and interesting study that was done by, Oh I don't know, TIME or US News and World Report recently. What would you say, I'd like for you to just briefly and either write it down in your head or on a piece of paper. What percentage of the population of the United States is African American? Just think about it or write it down. African American. So just, what percentage is Latino? And what percentage is Asian? And what percentage is Jewish? Okay, so African American, Latino, Asian, and Jewish. What percentages? And I think if I can channel Tim Wise [phonetic] who's a friend and colleague with a much younger and more agile mind than mine, I can remember those statistics basically. I heard him just talk about them recently. Okay, so what percentage are African Americans of this, in the United States? What did you say? 45? 25, 20, 45, 12. Twelve is accurate. That's the first. What percentage are Latinos in the United States. I didn't say Texas, I said in the United, or California, but in the United States. 37, 14, 30, 18. The answers 12.
If you're getting my drift here. What percentage of people in the United States are Jewish? 30%, 2%, 10%. So I have 30%, 2%, 10%. Okay, and the answer is 4. So the fact is that white people are not becoming a minority. That's a fantasy of ours. Actually I would say it's a fear. The fact is that we are back to having as, pretty much as many children, except for Latino's, and that the birthrate is sort of moving in that depending on what state your in. So the fact is we're not becoming minorities, and you can be very sure that in California, ever the cutting edge, things will probably happen where we're now calling ourselves the majority minority. The message there is, don't forget we're still gonna retain power even though you're gonna have more children and be an, you know, immigrants. So that's the first question.
Secondly, what percentage of any race is still pure?
Oh, that's a question that I think we don't know. For those of you who didn't hear her question, What percentage of any race is still pure? And I think that that is not only do I not know, but I think, you ho, I think it's also an interesting political question. And let me say one of the ways that it, that I came to be really clear about how political it is was sitting in a setting with a group of women at a conference, a national conference on race and ethnicity and higher education, NCORE, and hearing a very light skinned Latino. Her skin is probably even lighter than mine. Talking about wanting to be able to identify as multiracial, and how painful it was that she couldn't identify as multiracial. And she struggles with this. She's a person I know struggles with this a lot, cause she didn't know who she was. And so she said she wanted to be seen as multiracial.
And a very dark skinned, not very dark skin, pretty dark skinned actually African American woman stood up and said, you know, you all didn't start talking about being multiracial until white people started adopting babies who were different colors. She said I've been multiracial all my life. I am half Cherokee and half African American. And it was one of those experiences where I thought, oh man, I bet that's right. We didn't start talking about being biracial or, you know, because of course it was illegal to be, have one drop of black blood. That meant you were black. And so, so I don't know the answer to that question, and I would bet that we're not gonna necessarily gonna know the answer to that question, but sure poses a lot of interesting philosophical. Yeah. Good. So, it is. I think it's 1:24. Have time for one more question? One more quick question.
What is the percentage of Asian people?
What is the percentage of Asian people? Uh oh. I need to really challenge Tim. 5%. Thank heavens there are people who have real information in this room. 5% Asians. And, good! Thank you. So thank you all very much for being here, I hope as you leave that you're gonna be asking more questions than when you came in, then we will know that we were successful. Please fill out your evaluation forms, and thank you so much for being here.
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