Medical school at Duke was unsurprisingly harrowing for Tweedy, a first generation college graduate from an unheralded public university, attending on an affirmative action scholarship. It didn't help his equilibrium when a professor assumed the only reason he could be in the classroom was to repair the light fixtures. Being the brilliant achiever he seems to have been, he aced the class and med school.
Subsequent medical education introduced him to a series of patients and circumstances that illustrate how our medical system fails black patients. There was the black, drug-addicted, young mother whose baby died stillborn -- and for whom there was no possibility of drug or psychological treatment because she lacked insurance. There were the black, rural, clinic patients who could no more afford drugs or obtain treatment for high blood pressure than fly. There were the black, urban, emergency room patients who never saw a doctor until their medical problems overwhelmed their bodies beyond what any doctor could offer them.
Beginning practice as an intern and later a resident, he learned to deal with patients, white and a few black, who didn't "want no nigger doctor."
Tweedy recounts the dismissive treatment by senior white doctors of a black patient who insisted that, rather than take a prescribed blood pressure medicine, he'd try weight loss and exercise first. For resisting their authority, the patient left the hospital with a psychiatric diagnosis. He also describes, subtly and gently, occasions when being a black doctor for black patients unleashed patient insecurities that meshed and clashed with his own.
The chapter which completely drew me in is called "Doing the Right Thing." After discussing the many black patients he sees whose accumulated stress, bad diets and cultural conditioning nudge them toward early onset diabetes and heart disease, he discusses in detail his own struggle to maintain a healthy weight, exercise program and blood pressure. He learned from his patients.
Both Henry and Dr. Tweedy had both affirmed that their own Black Lives Matter. I've been awed by watching black friends who've identified with that affirmation become enabled to take care of themselves as part of the struggle to care for all Black lives. This very bourgeois story is Tweedy's contribution. If you have any interest in either the US health non-system and/or the struggles of black doctors within it, this is a good place to broaden your horizons.