Ali M. Thomas, MD; June M. Thomas, PhD; Richard W. Thomas, PhD
Potential Financial Conflicts of Interest: None disclosed.
Thomas A., Thomas J., Thomas R.; Lingering Racism Calls for Reflection and Action. Ann Intern Med. 2007;147:282-283. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-147-4-200708210-00020
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2007;147(4):282-283.
TO THE EDITOR:
Congratulations to Nunez-Smith and colleagues, whose work (1), along with qualitative surveys of residents (2), heralds a fresh paradigm in disparities research—a summons for greater individual, as well as collective, action.
We concur with the view (3) that data confirming the pervasiveness of subtle racism are consistent with U.S history and culture. In 1944, Swedish sociologist Gunnar Myrdal, in his commissioned study on America's “Negro problem” (4), called it “the moral dilemma of the American—the conflict between his moral valuations on various levels of consciousness” and the persistence of social inequity. Strikingly, as recent as 2002, white college students in New England were unaware of their subconscious prejudices and of their nonverbal manifestations of prejudice, which were detected equally by black students and trained white observers (5). Nonblack physicians should remember the exasperation of Martin Luther King Jr., who wrote that “shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will” (6). Let them embrace instead a historical tradition of white champions of racial equality (7).
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Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
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