By: Ali Bokhari, D.O., MPH
AMSA National President 2020-2021
Isaiah Cochran, M.D.
AMSA Immediate Past President
The American Medical Student Association stands in solidarity with the millions of Americans mourning George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others marginalized in our communities who have died at the hands of law enforcement over the course of decades. There are no words to articulate the grief that we feel for such collective loss in moments like these. As future physicians, we are outraged by the continued inequity that is not just impacting the health of our patients and communities, but is killing them. As an organization, we are deeply troubled by the historical prejudice against black and brown communities that makes these deaths neither our first nor our last.
At a moment like this, our sorrow seems to be matched, in equal parts if not more, by our frustration. The public health imperative for the disproportionately high mortality of people of color at the hands of law enforcement is known, but not enough has been done to bring about real change. The detriments to the overall health and well-being for communities of color is widely researched but the crisis in lagging life expectancy is prevalent. The pervasiveness of racial bias rampant in our institutions, including our medical education and health care system, has not garnered the public discourse it deserves. If we are to remedy the inequities and disparities plaguing health care in our country, our conversations and priorities must change.
But in this moment, with one public health crisis compounded by another, the fault lines in a broken system once again confirm that we cannot rely on patchwork solutions. As future physicians, we are committed to channeling our frustration by not only envisioning a future that does not build on our existing wounds, but also by taking action to heal those wounds to create a new foundation. With medical students, physicians, and health organizations across the country, AMSA affirms that police violence and racial profiling of minorities and other marginalized communities is an urgent public health issue. We call our current members and alumni to action to heal communities ravaged by discriminatory criminal justice practices through engaging public health systems.
In this time of hardship and uncertainty, AMSA is dedicated to advance the work of dismantling structural racism embedded in all levels of the healthcare system. As we step forward, AMSA commits to dedicating resources and developing programs that promote healthy environments because individual health cannot be addressed without addressing the health of our society at large. We commit to addressing health issues critical to achieving social justice and eliminating health disparities. We believe incorporating health disparities and cultural humility education into medical education curriculum is needed now more than ever. We will expand our advocacy efforts in support of research on the causes, prevention, and proven public-health focused solutions to violence in our communities.
AMSA recognizes that maintaining sustained momentum to end racial discrimination requires sustained organizing. We commit to this priority. From donning our white coats for black lives at protests to mobilizing voter registration and civic engagement, we will inform and provide resources for physicians-in-training to empower reforms in our communities. We invite you to join us in action, tell us what is going on in your community, share your ideas, and watch for upcoming resources we hope to provide.