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January 13, 2021

Resisting Racism in Dermatology: A Call to Action

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Dermatology, University of California, San Francisco
  • 2Perelman School of Medicine, Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
JAMA Dermatol. Published online January 13, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2020.5029

We have watched and been deeply disturbed by the tragic events that have unfolded in the US. We share the collective trauma, rage, and pain that our country is experiencing while we attempt to come to terms with the senseless killings of Black citizens by police—George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Tony McDade, to name a few. The foundation of these events is rooted in structural racism and inequality, which have a long history in our country. Structural racism describes institutionalized policies, procedures, and systems that create adverse outcomes for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people. Importantly, these structures exist beyond interpersonal relationships and create imbalances in power that contribute to inequalities despite the intentions of individuals. An example of structural inequity in dermatology is residential segregation and pediatric atopic dermatitis. Recent research indicates that Black children with atopic dermatitis are more likely to live in highly segregated communities and in rented homes,1 which can be associated with disease severity. Structural racism and the way it manifests within the health care system, as well as the communities where we practice, should be of concern to every physician because of the implications on public health.2

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