A Letter to the Pandemic Perspectives Community: How and why we must become anti-racist allies.

June 12, 2020

Dear readers and contributors,

Over the past few weeks we have witnessed how both overt and covert, systemic and institutionalized anti-Black racism in the United States has resulted yet again in violent loss of life for Black Americans. Compounding the already disproportionate burden of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality among Black people are the most recent incidents of police violence that have resulted in the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Tony McDade. They and others, join a list of over 1,000 people who were killed by police since January, 2019 - 24% of whom were Black, despite being only 13% of the population.

As a community of health professionals in training it is our duty to unequivocally condemn and actively work against the anti-Black racism that fuels police violence and underlies the exacerbated impact of COVID-19 on Black communities. We recognize the historical trauma and continuing institutionalized racism in the health sciences and in medicine that drive current health disparities. In recognition of these injustices, we urge our readers, colleagues, and fellow classmates to use our collective platforms and networks to call out and address racism for what it is – a true and continuing public health crisis. This will require us to use our white and non-Black POC privilege as well as our economic and educational privilege to take action. This work will take time and requires a continuous commitment to this fight.

Taking action must include a demand to our schools for representation of and equal compensation for Black faculty and administrators. We must also demand changes to our curriculums to provide mandatory instruction on how to identify privilege and mitigate implicit biases. Medical, nursing, and allied health programs must teach students how intergenerational trauma and continued anti-Black racism prevalent at all levels of society result in shortened life expectancies, higher rates of maternal mortality, and inferior healthcare in the Black community. As we are trained to become health professionals, we must also train to become active, anti-racist allies.

We must commit to defunding and dismantling ALL racist systems of oppression that include not only the police force but also our exclusionary system of higher education and our discriminatory healthcare system. In their place we must build new anti-racist systems that reflect and meet the needs of their communities.

As future healthcare professionals we must do more than prevent, diagnose, and treat the diseases that our patients face. We must be able to identify and undo racism as a determinant of health that hinders our patients’ abilities to thrive, to be healthy, and to live. We cannot imagine a future of health justice without being active in the fight for racial justice.

The editors of “Pandemic Perspectives: The COVID-19 Journal for Medical Trainees” would like to invite our fellow health professionals in training to submit to a special edition of our journal.

The topic of these submissions should center on “Racism: A Determinant of Health,” and we welcome pieces that examine the intersection of this topic with training during the COVID-19 pandemic. What first hand experiences do you have with racism in the medical and healthcare fields? What actions have you or your peers taken to be anti-racist? What future do you envision for racial justice in healthcare? Has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your understanding of racial health disparities? What are your thoughts or experiences protesting during a pandemic? What duties do we hold as health professionals and allies to show up and speak up against racism during times of crisis? - If you are a Black health professional in training we want to be clear about welcoming your submission and our commitment to amplifying your voice.

To submit: please use the "Submit here" forms on our homepage and check the box indicating that your piece is intended for this special edition. In addition, we will continue to accept submissions to the main journal!

If you are white or a non-Black POC and in search of resources to begin becoming an ally in the fight for racial justice, please visit this toolkit created by The Student Collective for Action on Diversity at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

We do not tolerate nor will we accept any submissions that use hateful or derogatory language or promote racism in any form.

Sincerely & In Solidarity,

Sarah Hill

MPHTM, MD Candidate

Editor In Chief

The Pandemic Perspectives Editorial Team


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