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November 25, 2020

Advocating for Black Lives—A Call to Dermatologists to Dismantle Institutionalized Racism and Address Racial Health Inequities

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Dermatology, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
JAMA Dermatol. 2021;157(2):155-156. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2020.4392

As trainees in dermatology, we feel a great disconnect between our professional approach to skin color and the reality of the racially charged world around us. We describe phenotypic variation in skin color using concepts such as melanosome density and Fitzpatrick skin types. However, these clinical codes objectively distance us from the social concept of race and its influence on the lives of patients. In the wake of the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, and Daniel Prude, there is renewed nationwide attention to the suffering of Black communities that has resulted from the United States’ 400-year legacy of systemic racism. We must expand our lens beyond the relative safety of our clinic walls and speak out against the racial inequities affecting the lives of Black patients. As resident physicians of different racial backgrounds, one of us Black (B.U.O.) and the other White (R.J.S), we have come together to issue a call to dermatologists to assume leadership in addressing racial health inequities. In this Editorial, we suggest strategies that dermatologists can embrace to dismantle the legacy of racial injustice against Black patients.

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