Sunday, June 24, 2018

Ray Charles – "I Don't Need No Doctor" (1966)

I don't need no doctor
'Cause I know what's ailing me

(Apologies to all you English teachers for that double negative!)

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Portraits of 30-odd prominent Harvard Medical School doctors once adorned the walls of the amphitheater at Harvard’s current teaching hospital.  But those portraits – all but one of which depict white males – are being taken.  

Gone but not forgotten!
That's because hospital’s president, the aforementioned Dr. Betsy Nabel, didn’t like what she saw on the faces of minority students who came into that amphitheater for lectures.

“I have watched them look at the walls.  I read on their faces, ‘Interesting. But I am not represented here.’  That got me thinking,” she told a Boston Globe reporter recently.

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Among the many notable doctors whose portraits are being removed on Dr. Nabel’s orders was Dr. Harvey Cushing (1869-1939), the “Father of Neurosurgery.”  

Dr. Harvey Cushing
Dr. Cushing invented many of the surgical techniques for operating on the brain that are still used today.  He was the surgeon-in-chief at Harvard Medical School’s teaching hospital for many years, and was decorated by both the American and British governments for his groundbreaking work in the treatment of brain injuries suffered by World War I soldiers.

That's all well and good, Dr. Cushing, but you were a white male.  Hit the road, Harvey, and don't you come back no more, no more, no more, no more!

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We’ve been busy knocking down statues of Confederate generals and other slaveholders recently.

As far as I know, none of the distinguished Harvard Medical School doctors whose portraits are being removed were slaveholders or white supremacists.  

Dr. Nabel and her white male husband
(who'd better watch his back!)
None of them have been accused of sexually harassing female nurses, and I have it on good authority that none of them voted for Trump. 

But it cannot be denied that when it comes to being white males, they are guilty as charged.
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Penalizing someone on the basis of their race is racial discrimination – regardless of which race you're discriminating against.

Harvard is guilty of discriminating against Asian applicants for admission, just as it was once guilty of discriminating Jewish applicants.  So Dr. Nabel’s action should come as no great surprise. 

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“I Don’t Need No Doctor” was written by Nick Ashford, Valerie Simpson, and Jo Armstead.  (Ashford and Simpson were songwriters and producers who worked with Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, Diana Ross, Gladys Knight, Smokey Robinson, and many other Motown artists.)

Ashford recorded the song a couple of months before Ray Charles, but his version didn’t make a dent on the charts.

Others who have covered “I Don’t Need No Doctor” include Humble Pie, Styx, John Mayer, and Joan Osborne.

Click here to listen to the Ray Charles cover of “I Don’t Need No Doctor.”  

Click on the link below to buy the song from Amazon.

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