Is AMA's Advancing Health Equity guide right to include 'social justice framework?'
- The American Medical Association released a 55-page guide “Advancing Health Equity” on October 28, 2021, grounded in “equity and a social justice framework,” stating, “We have the opportunity - and the obligation - to do better, and to achieve more equitable outcomes [...] We believe that a critical component of that effort involves a deep analysis of the language, narrative and concepts that we use in our work.”
- In a blog post, AMA President Gerald Harmon wrote, “So too must we continuously reexamine the role of language and question the long-held dominant narratives that exacerbate inequities in health care. The dominant narratives in American medicine and society reflect the values and interests of the historically more privileged socioeconomic groups - white, heterosexual, able-bodied, cisgendered, male, wealthy, English-speaking, Christian, U.S.-born.”
- Critical Race Theory, started in higher academia and is the belief that institutions are “inherently racist” and that racial inequality stems from White superiority. It was developed by scholars in the 1970s as a response to perceived “slow progress following the Civil Rights Movement” in the 60s.
- According to a recent Wall Street Journal poll, 56% of respondents said, 'American society is racist.'
The backlash over the AMA's use of a social justice framework in their 'Advancing Health Equity' guide is another example of White fragility and how Whiteness centers itself in conversations concerning race. While the AMA attempts to lay the groundwork for a non-biased vocabulary most conducive to equitable medical care, triggered political pundits invoke their latest bogeyman—critical race theory—missing the point entirely.
The principles of our country praise equality, though the health of our nation paints a different picture. According to the CDC, 'racial and ethnic minority populations experience higher rates of poor health and disease…when compared to their White counterparts.' A study by the PNAS shows the life expectancy of Black Americans is 3.6 years less than the White population. Estimates place an annual price tag of $200 billion on racism-related premature deaths in America. With the Core Purpose of the AMA, 'To promote the science and art of medicine and the betterment of public health,' applying racial context is appropriate and necessary to our understanding of healthcare.
According to the AMA, 'Given the deep divides that exist between groups in the United States, understanding and empathy can be extremely challenging for many…in a racialized sense.' Fueling these challenges are fundamental misunderstandings of CRT. Institutions like the AMA are trying to serve the population through education, not through shaming. By distorting these ideas, author Shae Collins says there's 'little room for diving deeper into the discussion and brainstorming actions that can be taken to find solutions to problems.' To avoid these conversations is hazardous to our health.
If one has health issues, consulting medical professionals has traditionally been the place to turn. Those seeking investment, legal, political, sociological, or any other sort of advice would not turn to the American Medical Association, for example. Yet, with the release of the AMA's Advancing Health Equity guide, the organization has decided to weigh into areas where it has no more expertise than a computer programmer does in restaurant management. The AMA's new 'health' guide has become a political document, not a medical one.
When the AMA professes to offer expert advice on social justice, Critical Race Theory, class structure, class consciousness, cultural appropriation, culture of poverty (all defined in the document), one has to wonder who comprises the AMA leadership? Instead of this document reflecting the medical research of medical professionals, it seems to better reflect gender and equity school departments, as it offers an explicit and arbitrary social justice element to medical discussion. It is filled with the ideologies of Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels that fuels the cultural-Marxist views spreading through society today, which are further perpetuated in this guide.
Making everything about social justice and pushing critical race initiatives reduces time and energy better spent on what the AMA should actually be skilled at—things that move the needle on a person's health, which is its primary responsibility. At some point, the United States, including the government, schools, professional organizations, and the media, must stop thinking that everything is about race, gender, and class—unless dividing people is the goal. If everything is about race, gender, or class, then nothing is. People are individuals first; it would be wise for us to get back to recognizing that truth as a society.