The national movement to eradicate what activists call systemic racism and white privilege from medicine and health care has few public critics in the medical profession. A possible reason: Skeptics who have questioned these efforts have been subject to harsh Twitter campaigns, professional demotions and other blowback.
A podcast of the Journal of the American Medical Association caused a furor this year when one of its editors suggested that discussion of systemic racism is an unfortunate distraction that should be taken off the table. In response to a protest petition, the AMA launched an internal investigation into the creation of the podcast (and a since deleted Tweet that promoted it). Eventually, the Journal’s top two editors, who are both white, resigned – the editor-in-chief’s departure coming after he issued a public apology in which he affirmed the existence of structural racism in the United States and in the health care field.
When asked about the implications for open debate and free expression, [Brittani] James, the Chicago physician and self-described activist, black feminist and anti-racism scholar, reframed the issue.
“They call it cancel culture, but it’s actually accountability.”