An article in STAT talks about doctors protesting racial injustice. This very eloquent comment by an MD is one that I hope that everyone, including all health care professionals, will read and take to heart:
Sarah O’Neil, MD
Racism is lethal.
Primum Non Nocere.
First, Do No Harm.
If I let racism stand, believing that because I don’t discriminate that my job is over, I am violating a primary tenet of medical ethics.
As a competent and responsible physician, I MUST actively choose to personally and publicly be an anti-racist because to do otherwise harms my patients.
The so-called controversy about whether docs should or shouldn’t speak out against racism arises from the conflation of fact with opinion.
It is not my OPINION that racism is bad for the health of people of color. It is a fact backed by epidemiological data.
Being an anti-racist activist is different from any other health campaign because why? Because racists still exist?
Smokers and people who don’t eat vegetables also still exist. But smoking is still harmful and vegetable consumption is still a contributor to improving health on many fronts and it is still my job to help people uncover the obstacles to making healthier choices.
In delivering good health care, it is my duty to be aware of and speak out about critical medical facts. Racism is harmful to one’s health. Racism kills people directly and indirectly, every day. This is a public health crisis. It is a fact. People with crushed tracheas are highly likely to have a bad medical outcome. Getting shot is bad for your health. Not trusting the medical establishment because we physicians won’t speak out about the real harms of racism contributes to health care avoidance by people of color. The chronic stress of afraid of being shot for daring to be alive while Black increases inflammation as does any other source of chronic stress.
Wear a bike helmet when riding.
Buckle your car seat.
Choose to be anti-racist.