25-Year-Old’s Med School Student’s Anatomy Drawings Featuring Black Bodies Go Viral On Social Media
For some back story: Ibe is an aspiring neurosurgeon, who began to draw after his mentor suggested it as a creative outlet. Because medical school is no cheap investment, Ibe also figured it was a good way to make some side income to save up.
However, there were many times when he was only able to find a white body to go off of. For example, while he was working on a drawing of eczema, there was absolutely zero reference points where eczema was depicted on a black person. And how eczema looks on a darker person’s skin is different than how it looks on a white person’s skin—so it’s certainly an important topic of conversation.
If you open a medical textbook, chances are every illustration inside will be of a white person. @ebereillustrate, a Nigerian medical illustrator, always thought it was bizarre that the public health pamphlets he received growing up showed only images of white bodies. pic.twitter.com/HtnrM9cca9
— Fast Co. Impact (@FastCoImpact) December 9, 2021
That’s how his niche got started: Medical drawings of black people. He began to post his drawings on his Twitter page, and they soon went viral, particularly a picture of a black fetus.
“I’ve literally never seen a Black [fetus] illustrated, ever,” one person tweeted.
“It’s so true!!!” another person commented. “I’ve never even realized it until now … But it’s also the fact that Black moms are never represented in anatomy pictures, and that is absolutely crazy.”
I was today years old when I realized I had never seen an anatomy illustration of a pregnant Black woman. Thank you @ebereillustrate for this beautiful picture. #RepresentationMatters #BlackMotherhood,” another wrote.
Pleased to share that I have directed this illustration, which has become globally acclaimed as novel, rare and revolutionary, be listed as an NFT on @OpenSea. Some of the proceeds from the sale would be used to finance the initiative.https://t.co/6PpQchNGu3 https://t.co/at68zwGA8L pic.twitter.com/kK7mOUMXcr
— Chidiebere Ibe (@ebereillustrate) December 17, 2021
Ibe was shocked at how much attention the drawings got. “I was shocked, and I was quite emotional,” he said. “That was beyond what I expected. I just had to go with the flow.”
Ibe discussed the importance of depicting black bodies in addition to white bodies in the medical world. “People want to be seen and heard and want to know they are valued and respected. The Black community [can feel] unsafe when going to a white physician,” he explained.
“There are a lot of cases where a physician is not familiar with how conditions appear on Black people,” he added. “If these drawings are shown early enough, or all the time, we’re able to give that value and respect [to patients].”
“These inequalities contribute to gaps in health insurance coverage, uneven access to services and poorer health outcomes among certain populations,” said Jamila Taylor, the director of health care reform and a senior fellow at The Century Foundation. “African Americans bear the brunt of these health care challenges.”
Have you ever seen a black fetus, or a black body depicted for medical purposes? What do you think of Ibe’s drawings?