Recent events have exposed two separate but related global public health crises of systemic racism. The COVID-19 pandemic in its devastation has shown a spotlight on underlying racial health disparities, as black people continue to suffer the most severe complications of this disease, and this burden reflects the inequities in socioeconomics as well as health care itself. Simultaneously, several episodes of police brutality against blacks have also brought into focus the issue of systemic racism in law enforcement.
We recognize that the US healthcare system is not immune to racial bias and inequities, as access to care, distribution of resources, and quality of healthcare are all subject to systemic racism, resulting in the subsequent racial and ethnic disparities in the health of patients. We as physicians have an obligation to continually look for and rectify these differences.
While racism may be individual (interpersonal or internalized) or systemic (institutional or structural), we at the MassAFP stand with the AAFP in condemning all forms of racism. We oppose systemic racism in our organization, and in our teaching and healthcare institutions, and we urge our family physician members to actively combat all forms of racism in themselves and in their communities.
Key Actions we will take:
1. We will acknowledge and dismantle all forms of racism and inequity in our healthcare institutions, learning environments, and communities where our members practice and where our patients seek healthcare.
2. We will strive for inclusive and diverse membership and leadership in our organization and examine policies and procedures to ensure transparency and fair distribution of power.
3. We will include educational opportunities for our members to examine their own bias and to enlighten and empower them to confront both individual and systemic racism in themselves, their patients, and their communities.
4. We will stand in support and solidarity with, and act with compassion for, those who experience discrimination.
By necessity this will be an ongoing and vigilant process of continual assessment and remediation, to ensure that all our physicians, students, residents, patients, and families feel valued and respected as equal members of society.