The elephant in the room: talking race in medical education
- 793 Downloads
The deaths of black men and women while in police custody, rising anti-immigrant sentiment and rhetoric in high-income countries, and the continued health disparities experienced by Indigenous communities globally have brought race and racism to the forefront of public discourse in recent years. In a context where academic health science centres are increasingly called to be “socially accountable,” ignoring the larger social context of race and racism is something that medical education institutions can little afford to do. However, many such institutions have largely remained silent on the issue of race and racism, both within and outside of healthcare. Most medical education continues to emphasize a primarily biological understanding of race. We argue that a different approach is needed. Highlighting the social construction of race is an essential starting point for educators and trainees to tackle racialized health disparities in our clinics and to challenge racism in our classrooms, educational and research institutions, and communities.
KeywordsRace Racism Social responsibility Social accountability Medical education
M. Sharma wish to thank Drs. Tina Martimianakis, Andrew Pinto, Nanky Rai, and Faraz Vahid Shahidi for their thoughtfulness and inspiration in thinking about these issues.
- Charles, D., Himmelstein, K., Keenan, W., Barcelo, N., & White Coats for Black Lives National Working Group. (2015). White coats for black lives: Medical students responding to racism and police brutality. Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine, 92, 1007–1010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Dei, G. (2009). Speaking race: Silence, salience, and the politics of anti-racist scholarship. In M. Wallis & A. Fleras (Eds.), The politics of race in Canada (pp. 230–238). Don Mills: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). (1950). Statement by experts on race problems. Accessed September 19. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001269/126969eb.pdf.
- World Health Organization. (2016). What are social determinants of health? Accessed July 25. http://www.who.int/social_determinants/sdh_definition/en/.