When Non-Whiteness Becomes a Condition.

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The term "benign ethnic neutropenia" describes the phenotype of having an ANC less than 1500 cells/uL with no increased risk of infection. This is most commonly seen in those of African ancestry. In addition, ANC ranges from countries in Africa emphasize that ANC levels below 1500 cell/uL are common and harmless. The lower ANC levels are driven by the Duffy null [Fy(a-b-)] phenotype which is protective against malaria and seen in 80-100% of those of Sub-Saharan African ancestry and <1% of those of Caucasian descent. Benign ethnic neutropenia is clinically insignificant, but the average ANC values differ from what is typically seen in those of European descent. Thus, the predominantly white American medical system has described this as a condition. This labelling implicitly indicates that common phenotypes in non-white populations are abnormal or wrong. We feel that it is important to examine and rectify practices in hematology that contribute to systemic racism.


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