Phi Beta Cons

Open Letter to the American Medical Association

Dear Ms. Hatwell,

Your July 10 press release apologizing for the AMA’s “history of racial inequality” also states the AMA’s commitment to “increasing the ranks of minority physicians so that the workforce accurately represents the diversity of America’s patients.”
With all due respect, the AMA’s commitment should be to ensuring equal opportunity regardless of race, not equal racial results. If a group can be “underrepresented,” then it follows that groups can be “overrepresented.” Is it the AMA’s position that there is something wrong if the percentage of doctors who are Asian American, for instance, exceeds their percentage in the general population? And how about those Jews — way overrepresented, right?
Please don’t respond by making an argument that suggests a “cultural competence” requirement for black doctors to treat black patients. Cultural competence is not rocket science — or brain surgery, if you like — and can be taught. Moreover, such arguments are based in any event on stereotyping — what Prof. William Allen calls the replacement of Jim Crow with “Dr. James Crow.”

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