No Whites or Asians allowed. That’s the message from the American Society of Hematology, which offers an explicitly racist “medical student award program.” The Society should realize that racial discrimination is immoral, illegal, and utterly unacceptable.
The award criteria could hardly be more racist. It states that applicants must “identify as a minority,” and it defines exactly which minorities it wants. The list includes: “Indigenous American Indians or Alaska Natives, Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders, African Canadians, Inuit, and First Nation Peoples.” Note which races are missing.
How does the Society justify this racial discrimination? The award is supposed to help people who are “under-represented in health-related sciences.” Activists say that recruiting such individuals is essential to eliminating health disparities. According to this argument, healthcare needs more minority medical professionals who match the skin color of the patients they treat. Activists call this “racial concordance”; the assumption is that physicians will provide better care to patients of the same race or ethnicity.
Yet as Do No Harm has shown, racial concordance has no support in medical research, and there is no evidence that it improves healthcare outcomes. The preponderance of evidence suggests that it doesn’t even improve patient-physician interaction, such as through enhanced communication. Instead, racial concordance is more likely to hurt patients by pushing healthcare to resegregate by race. Patients are also hurt when medical societies and groups like the American Society of Hematology prioritize skin color over merit. The best way to close health disparities is to recruit and train the best doctors, regardless of what they look like.
The American Society of Hematology should be ashamed. It should eliminate this racist award immediately, for the sake of patients of all colors. Racial discrimination has no place in healthcare.
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