The American Medical Association (AMA) released a document calling on medical professionals to look at progressive language into their practices as part of an effort to fight “ racism” and “ white supremacy. ”
The AMA teamed up with the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Center for Health Justice to release a 54-page guide called “ Advancing Health Equity: A Guide to Language, Narrative and Concepts . ”
“ The devastating toll of COVID-19 on communities who are minoritized and or historically marginalized, coupled with worldwide protests against racism and other systems that exclude, has brought many people and a wide spectrum of institutions in to conversations about racial justice and health equity, ” the document states.
“ Many groups are now examining the dire statistics detailing inequities (or injustices) in health, the main causes of those statistics, and the role our institutions have played in producing and perpetuating this harm. ”
The AMA’s solution to systemic “ inequities” is to redefine “ narratives” about “ race, individualism, and meritocracy” in addition to those “ surrounding medicine itself. ”
“ Central to this work is a consideration of our language, and the narratives that shape our thinking, ” the document explains. “ As we explore in this guide, dominant narratives (also called malignant narratives), particularly those about ‘ race, ‘ individualism and meritocracy, as well as narratives surrounding medicine itself, limit our understanding of the root causes of health inequities. Dominant narratives create harm, undermining public health insurance and the advancement of health equity; they must be named, disrupted and corrected. ”
That’s just the beginning.
The document goes on to praises “ critical race theory” and “ gender studies” as a solution to “ meritocracy and individualism” and other “ patriarchal narratives. ”
Much is at stake in whose narratives dominate, receive traction and thrive. Narratives grounded in white supremacy and sustaining structural racism, for example , perpetuate cumulative disadvantage for some populations and cumulative advantage for white people, and specially white men. Patriarchal narratives enforce rigidly defined traditional norms, and reinforce inequities based on gender.
Narratives that uncritically center meritocracy and individualism render invisible the very real constraints generated and reinforced by poverty, discrimination and ultimately exclusion. Yet a rich tradition of work in health equity and related fields, including critical race theory (defined in the glossary), gender studies, disability studies, as well as scholarship from social medicine, gives us a foundation for an alternative narrative , one that challenges the status quo, one that moves health care towards justice .
In other words, the goal is to insert critical race theory and other progressive dogma into medical vocabulary “ at the expense of clarity and accuracy, ” according to New York Magazine contributor Jesse Singal.
7/ I don’t think any one of this is binding, but it is striking that the AMA would spend so much of its time creating a document trying to get everyone to appear to be a graduate of at the very top school, often at they expense of clarity and accuracy.
— Jesse Singal (@jessesingal) October 30, 2021
Browse the AMA document: