Clueless White Woman

July 9, 2008

AMA and institutional discrimination

Heard on NPR this afternoon: AMA To Apologize For Past Discrimination

The American Medical Association plans to apologize for past discrimination against minority physicians. The group did not take a stand against discrimination by state medical societies — including the exclusion of African-Americans — until the 1960s.

Apparently the audio will be available online in a few hours. I can’t find any press release on the AMA’s website confirming this, although I don’t mean to cast doubt on NPR’s reporting by saying that UPDATE July 10: the AMA press release is now available on their website.

This is a story to which the clueless person — by which I mean me — says, “Holy crap, that was recent! How could it possibly have gone on that long?”

Yes, I know, I’m really fucking clueless.

In practice, apparently, this wasn’t actively stating that black physicians were not eligible for membership; the central AMA left such “policy” decisions up to local branches. And despite my shock at discrimination being so recent, I was not particularly surprised to learn that the Southern branches were the ones who continued to insist on “autonomy” in such decisions. (How very neo-Confederate. What a shame they don’t believe in such autonomy when it comes to subsidizing religion on license places.)

The complete chronology of “Race and the AMA” is available at at their own site. This part seems a textbook example of historical patterns of discrimination having long-term effects:

Demographic survey results [from 2000]: House of Delegates: 88 percent male, 84 percent White, 2 percent Black, 1 percent Hispanic, 2 percent Asian, 0 percent Native American, 11 percent Unknown All physicians and medical students: 75 percent male, 51 percent White, 2 percent Black, 3 percent Hispanic, 7.9 percent Asian, 0.1 percent Native American, 33 percent Unknown.

Note not only the racial disparity in the overall population of physicians, but also the disparity between those statistics and the percentages which make up the AMA itself. No white privilege there… o_O

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3 Comments »

  1. Nice blog. I found your blog while Google searching for the NPR AMA story.Strangely, I am not finding any thing on the AMA website about this story.

    Comment by Charles — July 9, 2008 @ 11:39 pm

  2. Hi Charles, thanks for the note 🙂 The press release is up now (July 10) — and like you I wasn’t able to find much about it at all on July 9. Now, though, coverage seems to be pretty widespread. I guess NPR got a pre-release or something.

    Comment by clueless — July 10, 2008 @ 5:32 pm

  3. Thanks Clueless, I did not wait for the AMA’s press release. I went ahead and research the relation between the American Medical Association (AMA) and the National Medical Association (NMA) and did a story.

    The NMA was founded in 1895 because the AMA refused to admit Blacks or African Americans doctors.

    Thanks again,.

    Comment by Charles — July 10, 2008 @ 7:01 pm


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