Skip To Content

    Angelina Jolie Is Exposing Institutionalized Racism In Medicine After Seeing Her Daughter Zahara Affected By It

    "This goes beyond just looking at skin."

    Angelina Jolie is a lot of things: an actor, a filmmaker, and a humanitarian.

    Angelina Jolie attends the European premiere of "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" at Odeon IMAX Waterloo on October 09, 2019 in London, England

    And now she's working to expose racist structures in the healthcare industry.

    In a new article for Time, Angelina interviewed Malone Mukwende, a medical student dedicated to educating others about racial biases in his field.

    "When Malone Mukwende, 21, started medical school in London, he identified a fundamental problem: Almost all the images and data used in its teaching were based on studies of white patients," she writes.

    Angelina Jolie make the photocall for the movie "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" at Hotel de la Ville

    "But medical symptoms can present very differently on Black and brown skin, leading to misdiagnosis, suffering, and even death," she continued. "Still a student, he has recently launched both a handbook, Mind the Gap, and Hutano, a new online platform intended to empower people with knowledge about their health."

    Angelina Jolie attends the Japan premiere of "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" on October 03, 2019, in Tokyo, Japan

    In the conversation, Angelina revealed that she's noticed medical racism through her children.

    Angelina Jolie and Zahara Marley Jolie-Pitt attend the European premiere of "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" at Odeon IMAX Waterloo on October 09, 2019, in London, England

    "I have children from different backgrounds, and I know when there was a rash that everybody got, it looked drastically different depending on their skin color. But whenever I looked at medical charts, the reference point was always white skin," she said.

    Zahara Marley Jolie-Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and Maddox Jolie-Pitt attend the Japan premiere of 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' at Roppongi Hills arena on October 3, 2019, in Tokyo, Japan

    "Recently my daughter Zahara, whom I adopted from Ethiopia, had surgery, and afterward a nurse told me to call them if her skin 'turned pink,'" she continued.

    Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and Zahara Marley Jolie-Pitt attend the 45th Annual Annie Awards at Royce Hall on February 3, 2018, in Los Angeles, California

    Malone replied, "Almost the entirety of medicine is taught in that way. There’s a language and a culture that exists in the medical profession, because it’s been done for so many years, and because we are still doing it so many years later it doesn’t seem like it’s a problem."

    "However, like you’ve just illustrated, that’s a very problematic statement for some groups of the population because it’s just not going to happen in that way, and if you’re unaware you probably won’t call the doctor," he said.

    They also discuss the fact that "this goes beyond just looking at skin": covering the fact that there "haven’t been studies on Black and brown skin because it wasn’t considered important," as Angelina points out.

    US actress Angelina Jolie poses during the European premiere of Disney's dark fantasy adventure film "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" on October 7, 2019, in Rome

    Of course, people of color have always faced discrimination in medicine. Frequently, their pain management treatment plans differ from white patients. Black patients can often feel ignored or mistreated by healthcare workers. Learn more here.

    And you can read the full interview here.