In the historic and tumultuous year of 2020, one resounding theme was heard loud and clear. People of color – black, Indigenous, LatinX and others – continue to experience persistent, pervasive structural racism and the tragic, regrettable, and preventable consequences that come with it.
The impact of racism on both individual and population health is disturbing, with the COVID-19 pandemic illuminating the macrocosm of inequities still present across our health care system. Even today, a half a century after the civil rights movement began, racial and ethnic minorities are less likely to receive preventive health care, often receive lower quality care, and have worse health outcomes for many medical conditions (Klein and Hostetter 2018).
These are not new issues, nor is this the first time that medical literature is filled with such discussion. But where and when will change finally come? And finally, how can we help?
The following are just a sample of recommendations, best practices, and advice from throughout the medical community.
The overarching goal in all of this is equity - to end racial and health disparities. It will take effort and energy that is stronger than the forces fighting against it. It will require “collaboration, commitment, education, and transformative conversations around racism, health inequity, and advocacy” (Sexton et. al. Oct 2020), but in the end, our patients and our communities are worth it.