As uprisings continue around the United States in response to police violence against Black people, we have reached a moment of reckoning for many Americans. As a nation, we are struggling to find a way forward. Many organizations have issued statements of solidarity and made promises of support, as first steps. Individual clinicians and physicians’ organizations have joined the efforts, speaking out against police violence and naming racism as a public health issue or crisis. Organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and the American College of Physicians have issued statements denouncing police brutality, condemning violence against protestors, and calling for inquiries into cases of police violence against Black people.
This is new territory for most medical organizations, which have traditionally been conservative, are often self-described as nonpartisan, and have historically shied away from public advocacy efforts focused on social justice. The medical profession has long prided itself on its espoused values of objectivity and impartiality. But as a Black woman and a physician, I know these portrayals have never been accurate. In fact, all of medicine, including my chosen field of obstetrics and gynecology, has deeply racist and exploitative roots. The notion that medical providers are unbiased and objective, practicing within a profession free from the legacies of racism, genocide, and White supremacy, is fictitious.