AMSA Call to America: Stand Against Racist Threats Directed at HBCUs & Anti-racist Doctors 

February 09, 2022


AMSA Call to America:
Stand Against Racist Threats Directed at
HBCUs & Anti-racist Doctors 

Black History Month is a moment to celebrate Black excellence and achievement in the face of current and historic structural racism and oppression.  This is also a moment to highlight the systems that have created and perpetuated health and economic disparities faced by the Black community. This year, Black History Month was met with over a dozen racially-motivated bomb threats targeting Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in addition to Neo-Nazis targeting two physicians working to make healthcare more equitable for people of color.

These bomb threats are not uncommon for HBCUs. As noted by Howard University President, Wayne Frederick,

We’ve had these challenges before… Since I’ve been here in 1988, it has not been this widespread and also, I think, this overt.”

These threats are atrocious and cowardly and are nothing short of domestic terrorism. They hid behind a mask of anonymity to threaten thousands of students who had to grapple with the emotional distress of these threats, while having their studies disrupted by campus closures.

Just a week prior, Neo-Nazis gathered outside of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Massachusetts, dressed in black ski masks, to protest “anti-white” policies. The policies were first discussed by Drs. Michelle Morse and Bram Wispelwey in a letter to Boston Review and called for a change in approach to address health inequities based on race, which were adopted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital. These Neo-Nazis named both physicians on flyers they distributed based on their delusion of “white genocide.”

These forms of racist attacks– verbal, physical, and mental– have become the norm for racists and white supremacists – we can not let these racist attacks be viewed as normal or business as usual in our nation. We at AMSA do not tolerate these attacks, and recognize that these forms of physical violence in addition to the structural violence faced by people of color in the medical field are unacceptable and unjust. 

We are committed to eliminating structural racism embedded in all levels of the health care system, including undergraduate and medical education. We cannot begin to discuss achieving health equity without discussing dismantling racism both within our profession and in our society as a whole. As healthcare professionals, we must stand with the Black and Brown community and support our colleagues working to dismantle racism in medicine. It is our moral obligation to recognize and actively work to tear down the systemic racism we see in our clinics, hospitals, and schools. We can see the effects of structural racism impacting biomedical research, admissions to medical schools, published research, demographics of medical school faculty, just to name a few. This problem is systemic throughout medicine, and thus, requires a systems-level solution. We strongly urge healthcare professionals to support and stand up against the harassment and violence that our colleagues are facing for doing their crucial work. 

At AMSA we hold true the words of Rep. John Lewis:

When you see something that is not right, not just, not fair, you have a moral obligation to say something.
To do something.”

We call on white healthcare professionals to recognize their privilege, stand with our Black and Brown colleagues, and take action when they recognize injustice. We call on our Members of Congress to be proactive in addressing the larger threat of white supremacy in our nation; and to pass legislation that will breakdown inequities in our healthcare system and improve access to healthcare, education, safety, and opportunity for all Americans. And, we call on Americans across the country to stand against racist threats targeting HBCUs, public health workers, and physicians working to care for their patients, communities and to dismantle racism in medicine. Until such a time when these basic and human rights are guaranteed for all, there is still tremendous work to be done. 

It is absolutely crucial that we bring equity and racial justice to medicine and normalize anti-racism. This is how we can provide equitable care for the diverse communities we serve. AMSA will not turn a blind eye to this public threat. We will continue advocating for health issues that impact the Black community. We will continue to advocate for increased educational opportunity, particularly for those in disadvantaged communities. Over the coming weeks, we will be building out ways you can get involved supporting your community. Follow us at @AMSANational  

Next week, we will be hosting our Health Equity Week of Action from Feb. 14th – Feb 19th, where we will be providing actions that future health professionals can take in moving the needle on advancing equity and justice. We are in the midst of our Race in Medicine scholars program, where you can learn about the racial injustices in medicine and how to combat them. Our Reproductive Health Project scholars and leadership programs dive deeply into Reproductive Justice and Medical Ethics in Reproductive Health (sign-up waiting lists now), and we soon will be launching a new Reproductive Justice Leadership Program for Residents. In the fall, we also have our Health Justice Scholars Program where you can take it even further and gain a better understanding of the social determinants of health and how these impacts our patients on a macro and micro level.



About the American Medical Student Association:
AMSA is the oldest and largest independent association of physicians-in-training in the United States. Founded in 1950, AMSA is a student-governed, non-profit organization committed to representing physicians-in-training, advocating for quality and affordable health care for all, and building the next generation of physician leaders. To join our community, visit amsa.org.