Racism is a public health emergency
As this year’s events continue to unfold, a pandemic crashed into and forced wide open the deep and long festering wounds of our country’s racist history, policies, and systems. As anti-racism demonstrations spread across the country and the world, doctors, clinicians, and community advocates had already been speaking out advocating for our most vulnerable and systemically disadvantaged communities.
SGIM issued a strong position statement in June to denounce the racial injustice and murder of Black Americans. In response to the Forum’s Call for Submissions for this theme issue on “Systemic Racism and Medicine,” SGIM members soon answered that call—just as they have always done—with the passion and critical thoughtfulness that represents this community’s powerful voice for social change and justice. As our communities of practice and education evolve to embrace anti-racist values and design healthcare systems accordingly, diverse views are vital to ongoing dialogue and change.
In this issue, SGIM president Jean S. Kutner and SGIM CEO, Eric Bass introduce the Society’s plans for looking inward to diversity, equity, and inclusion internally. Onumah and Fleurant, current co-chairs of SGIM’s Health Equity Commission, reflect on the racist history of medicine, noting that our current actions can change history for when we’re looking back at 2020 from the future. Also, associate members contribute two articles to this issue looking at medicine and sharing their stories from trainees’ eyes. The SGIM Education Committee and Leisman and Karani offer recommendations for medical education programs to be anti-racist. The issue closes with the beginning of a collection of essays, as Sgro looks back at five of many previously published Forum articles on race and medicine.
This is only the beginning. Forum is committed to sustaining dialogue on racism and its impact on the public’s health. We need your voices and opinions from the front lines of patient care and advocacy to keep these critical conversations going. We need to remain vigilant of the insidious influences of racism in our practices, patient care, and healthcare systems. We need to look in the mirror, recognize what needs to change, and work together on addressing this public health emergency that is racism.