Black US doctors battle entrenched racism in medical world
Two female African American medical doctors are on a mission to dismantle the entrenched bigotry and racism in the US medical world.
Dr. Brittani James, 33, and her twin, Dr. Brandi Jackson, have taken on the medical establishment in pioneering work to eliminate racism in medicine.
“We’re teaching how to see it and how to undo it,” Jackson said.
James, an internal medicine doctor, and Jackson, a psychiatrist, have developed anti-racist coursework used in two Chicago medical schools.
They’ve co-founded the Institute for Antiracism in Medicine, where physicians can earn continuing medical education credit for taking classes on how their profession has made Black patients sicker.
They’re seeking federal legislation to require hospitals to reveal outcomes by race, with penalties when Black patients consistently fare worse.
They’ve even hatched a plan to create black physician coats. That’s not as radical as it might sound -- black coats were the tradition in the 19th century.
Their latest achievement? Helping lead a charge against the American Medical Association and the influential research journal it publishes.
The pandemic year and relentless police violence has fueled their resolve to fight structural racism.
“It is literally killing us,” James said.
In recent years the AMA has made an effort to atone for decades of excluding Blacks from its ranks. Even today, just 5% of all US physicians are Black.
The sisters’ institute started a petition, demanding that the AMA’s flagship medical journal diversify its mostly white editorial staff and ensure that medical research relating to race and racism gets published. The effort has garnered more than 8,800 signatures so far.
AMA vowed to dismantle structural racism within the U.S. medical establishment, including diversifying its own staff and collaborating with outside groups.
The sisters’ message comes at the convergence of a deadly coronavirus pandemic that has highlighted racial health inequities in the US, a rise in white supremacism, and civil unrest over police brutality.