Achieving Racial Equity Within Medical Institutions: An Appeal for Action.

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Date: June 2021
From: Mayo Clinic Proceedings(Vol. 96, Issue 6)
Publisher: Elsevier, Inc.
Document Type: Report
Length: 1,367 words
Lexile Measure: 1760L

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In late May 2020, a global outpouring of grief and rage swept our world as news emerged that George Floyd, an unarmed Black man in police custody, was publicly murdered on a busy street in Minneapolis. The cruel and casual disregard for Mr Floyd's humanity as he cried for his mother has since haunted our public conscience, shattering widely held perceptions of a color-blind, post-racial era. Intractable structural racism--the sum of mutually reinforcing policies, institutional practices, and cultural norms that systematically discriminate against persons of color (1)--continues to exact a terrible toll in all areas of our lives: the criminal justice system and mass incarceration, housing, education, food security, and indeed health care. It should come as little surprise that the burden of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic continues to ravage underserved populations worldwide, reflecting deep-seated patterns of marginalization, the historical legacy of slavery and dispossession, and modern racial segregation. (2,3)

Protests for racial justice erupted internationally following Mr Floyd's death. The medical establishment--hospital networks, academic medical centers, medical schools, and public health institutions--was swift in releasing messages of solidarity. Clinicians, researchers, health care administrators, and hospital support staff held town hall meetings, campus rallies, and vigils, openly signaling their support for antiracist initiatives. However, in an age of rapid news cycles, social media storms, and click-by-click attention spans, there are now legitimate fears that our global concern for racial equity will soon disappear from view. As momentum stalls, the medical community will once again reach a crossroads: to stand by idly as the effects of structural racism quite literally destroy the lives of our patients and communities, or to make unprecedented efforts to steer the arc toward meaningful social change. If past is prologue, then lamentably institutional stasis is the more likely outcome. If so, the price of our silence will be paid by the Black, Latinx, or Indigenous patient who receives suboptimal, non--evidence-based care for an acute coronary syndrome (4); or the Black infant who is twice as likely to die perinatally compared with a White infant, an injustice...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A667487678