Black Man in a White Coat

  • by Damon Tweedy
  • Narrated by Corey Allen
  • 8 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

One doctor's passionate and profound memoir of his experience grappling with racial identity, bias, and the unique health problems of black Americans.
When Damon Tweedy first enters the halls of Duke University Medical School on a full scholarship, he envisions a bright future where his segregated, working-class background will become largely irrelevant. Instead he finds that he has joined a new world where race is front and center. When one of his first professors mistakes him for a maintenance worker, it is a moment that crystallizes the challenges he will face throughout his early career. Making matters worse, in lecture after lecture the common refrain for numerous diseases resounds: "more common in blacks than whites."
In riveting, honest prose, Black Man in a White Coat examines the complex ways in which both black doctors and patients must navigate the difficult and often contradictory terrain of race and medicine. As Tweedy transforms from student to practicing physician, he discovers how often race influences his encounters with patients. Through their stories, he illustrates the complex social, cultural, and economic factors at the root of most health problems in the black community. These elements take on greater meaning when Tweedy finds himself diagnosed with a chronic disease far more common among black people. In this powerful, moving, and compassionate book, Tweedy deftly explores the challenges confronting black doctors and the disproportionate health burdens faced by black patients, ultimately seeking a way forward to better treatment and more compassionate care.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


Tweedy tells the story of his life in medical school, residency and in medical practice as a black man. He attended Duke University Medical School in 1996. He tells the story of his humiliation of being mistaken for a maintenance worker by his professor. He says he felt uncomfortable and like an outsider all during his schooling at Duke. He also discusses the affirmative action and how helpful it has been to the minority.

The author also delves into his health problems. He goes into depth about his diagnosis of hypertensive kidney disease which is very common among the blacks. He moves back and forth between anecdote and analysis. He reviews the health problems of blacks and how this relates to poverty and ignorance. He discusses the past history of medical experimentation on blacks without their knowledge or consent. He also delves into the “two-tiered system” where blacks are less likely than whites to have access to quality health care. Unfortunately, Tweedy offers few opinions or ideas on how to eliminate racial disparities in health care. He does advocate for more black physicians and nurses. The memoir is well written and quite interesting. Corey Allen did a good job narrating the book.
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- Jean

Read this instead of Ben Carson's Gifted Hands

Damon Tweedy has written an extremely thoughtful memoir of his time as a medical student onward, navigating a white dominated school and profession. It begins with his experience, walking into Duke Medical School and being asked by the professor, "Are you here to fix the lights?" Stunned into silence and not knowing how to explain that he was not a well dressed janitor but was in fact a medical student, Tweedy tried to shake it off and prove his worth. When Tweedy earned the second highest score on the final exam in his professor's class, his professor (the same one who mistook him for the janitor) told him how surprised and impressed he was that Tweedy did so well. The professor never even realized how racist it was to be that surprised a black person could do so well. The professor could have added, "And you are so well spoken!"

Tweedy himself felt confused about his own ideas of black and white people, rich and poor people. Using a deeply self reflective writing style, Tweedy offers his reader a genuine understanding of the conflicted ideas that work their way into the minds of the doctors who care for us. They are, after all, human. Tweedy wrote about his need to differentiate himself from the black people who got ahead because of affirmative action instead of skill-- wanting the white people in charge of his future to see his talents and not his skin color. However, he realized he wasn't so different from many of his patients. He spent an incredible amount of effort trying to understand their lives, their struggles, and what led them to make the choices they made.

In the end, his drive to understand humans won out, motivating him to choose psychiatry over surgery. Whenever a patient's outcome was unfavorable, Tweedy beat himself up, looking through his notes to see how his own biases might have dictated the care he provided. This made me really love him-- so much.

During his time as a doctor, he treated many poor black people and saw how their outcomes were often far worse than outcomes for whites with the same conditions. He spent his career trying to understand why that is and has written a book to share what he learned. In the book he addresses specific medical and psychological issues and healthcare cost and accessibility. He examines many stereotypes that have gain popularity and asks if they are generally true, and somehow he does all of it without sounding angry, self righteous, or elitist.
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- serine

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-08-2015
  • Publisher: Recorded Books