Honoring the life of Dr. Susan Moore
by addressing racism in the medical profession
At a press conference before the 1966 convention of the Medical Committee for Human Rights, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhuman because it often results in physical death. I see no alternative to direct action and creative nonviolence to raise the conscience of the nation.”
Sadly — infuriatingly — the scourge of racism is as deadly to Black bodies now as it was when Dr. King spoke those words 55 years ago: Compared to whites, people of color are more likely to be uninsured, face barriers to care, and suffer and die from preventable health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Black families are three times more likely to live in poverty, and twice as likely to be food insecure. Black men are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police.
Health care providers like us have a critical role to play in dismantling the racism that shortens Black lives. Besides fighting for an equitable and universal health care system, we must identify and take ownership of the racial bias within our own profession.
This bias was on full display in the recent death of Dr. Susan Moore, a Black physician who died from complications of COVID-19 on Dec. 20. While hospitalized, Dr. Moore repeatedly complained about her delayed diagnosis, and inadequate treatment for pain, bacterial pneumonia, and severe respiratory symptoms. In a final plea for help, she posted this VIDEO to Facebook, crying out, “This is how Black people get killed.”
Dr. Moore’s death is a chilling reminder of widespread racial inequity in health care, and the fact that people of color are not protected from racial bias by their education, income, or professional status.
Change must start with health care professionals like us. We must remember and act on Dr. King's call to use “direct action and creative nonviolence to raise the conscience of the nation.”
Add Your Name
We invite you to add your signature to an open letter calling on medical professionals and institutions to identify and root out systemic racism.
Click HERE for additional, concrete steps you can take to work towards racial equity and justice in U.S. health care.
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Please share this open letter with your colleagues, friends, family members, and anybody else who might be interested in advancing the cause of racial justice throughout U.S. health care.
To learn more about racism as a public health emergency, visit pnhp.org/RacismAndPublicHealth.