The New England Journal of Medicine has published a proposal that medical students be segregated by race.
The proposal, written by California-based academics, was titled “Racial Affinity Group Caucusing in Medical Education — A Key Supplement to Antiracism Curricula.”
The reason for the segregation, they wrote, is that “structural racism” in the field can be “retraumatizing” and cause “imposter syndrome” for minorities.
“Founded on legacies of colonialism and racism, medical education has historically centered White learners and continues to perpetuate structural racism,” the proposal claimed. “Pedagogical approaches often center White learners and ignore the differential impact of content on BIPOC learners (Black, Indigenous, or people of color) with personal experiences of racism that are nuanced and have been informed by interactions and observations over their lifetimes.”
The authors asserted that “immersion in the existing medical education system can therefore be retraumatizing, resulting in imposter syndrome, heightened anxiety, and a reduced sense of belonging. Especially as we seek to recruit more medical students who are BIPOC, we need to recognize this harm and encourage pedagogical approaches that support the needs of BIPOC learners.”
The proposal also claimed that people of color cannot adequately express their emotions due to “white fragility” and that they need space “without White people” to be themselves and “heal from racial trauma together.”
“Some BIPOC people have been socialized to care for the egos of White people, to express their emotions only in ways that are palatable to White audiences, and to tread lightly around ‘White fragility’ (White people’s discomfort and defensiveness regarding their legacy of racism and complicity in systems of inequality) in order to maintain their relationships, professional status, and safety,” the proposal said. “In a space without White people, BIPOC participants can bring their whole selves, heal from racial trauma together, and identify strategies for addressing structural racism.”
The group said that a learning environment without white people “buffers participants from (often daily) experiences of micro- and macroaggressions, structural inequities, and isolating siloes in predominantly White institutions.”
The group notes that the University of California San Francisco has already implemented this to some degree.
Stanley Goldfarb, a professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania’s medical school, responded to the proposal in a letter published by Do Not Harm, an organization seeking to keep woke politics out of doctor’s offices.
“It is difficult to understand how such offensive language made it past the gatekeepers of this prestigious institution,” the letter to the New England Journal of Medicine’s editors read. “In these same pages, authors and editors have been covering the unprecedented exodus of physicians and other staff leaving the clinical profession due to demoralization, burnout, and toxic work environments. Have you considered the possibility that divisive and highly politicized pieces such as this might be worsening this crisis, in addition to moving medical education toward segregation?”
Goldfarb concluded, “The Journal should apologize for running such an illiberal and extremist article, and ask itself why it was published in the first place. Anything less sends a deeply concerning message about the priorities – and indeed, the principles – of the New England Journal of Medicine.”