Brow Beat

John “Whitest of White Men” Oliver Calls for Backup to Talk About Bias in Medicine

John Oliver is a white man, or as he puts it: “I’m a walking cider donut: pale, filled with cake, and found at every farmers market in the northeast.” That means he doesn’t have much personal experience when it comes to bias in medicine, which was the main subject of Sunday night’s Last Week Tonight. Specifically, the show examined medical bias on the basis of sex and race, carefully unpacking how everything from outdated textbooks to doctors’ unconscious beliefs about women and black patients can lead them to receive substandard care.

For assistance, Oliver brought in comedian Wanda Sykes, who has joked about those double standards in her stand-up. “Black people, we don’t even get our hands on opioids,” she said on her Netflix special, Wanda Sykes: Not Normal. “They don’t even give them to us. I had a double mastectomy, you know what they sent my black ass home with? Ibu-fucking-profen.” On Last Week Tonight, she offered some solutions, including bias training for med students, so they don’t believe black people literally have thicker skin than white people. Or you could just bring a white man with you to the hospital. Bonus points if he was on Curb Your Enthusiasm.