Doctors fighting racial health disparities face threats, harassment

Updated: May 3


Published by: News, Tyler Kingkade

March 20, 2022, 5:30 A.M.


Dr. Aletha Maybank joined the American Medical Association as its first chief health equity officer in 2019, determined to fight racial disparities in medicine.


That work grew more urgent in 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic exposed deadly inequities in health care, and as George Floyd’s murder turned the country’s attention to the pervasiveness of systemic racism. The AMA issued a statement decrying racism as an urgent threat to public health, and Maybank focused on the organization’s efforts to “dismantle racist and discriminatory policies and practices across all of health care.” That included supporting training for medical workers on implicit bias, as well as advocating for solutions to problems that had not traditionally been a focus for the organization, such as housing inequities and police violence.


But by the fall of 2021, these equity initiatives were facing growing pushback from pundits, think-tank researchers and doctors — both liberal and conservative — who contended that the medical organization had overstepped its mission of supporting health care professionals and was now embracing a “woke” ideology. And out of public view, that backlash was turning vicious — particularly for Maybank.


After the AMA issued a communication guide last October describing words and phrases that doctors should avoid so as not to offend certain groups of patients, messages directed at Maybank, who is Black, escalated from trolling on social media to threats of violence. Maybank said she arrived home to discover someone had spray-painted a vulgar death threat on her front door in New York. The AMA hired a security detail for her and scrubbed her online presence in an attempt to restore her privacy.


Click here to read full article: Doctors fighting racial health disparities face threats, harassment (nbcnews.com)