Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians (MAFP) resident physician and medical student members wrote the following statement in response to the defacement of the George Floyd mural by a University of Minnesota medical student.
Recently, a medical student from the University of Minnesota defaced the George Floyd mural at the very location police murdered George Floyd. As medical student and resident members of the MAFP (many of whom are also members of the University of Minnesota Medical School community), we are disgusted by this act of racism.
We read the letter sent out to the University of Minnesota Medical School community from the dean on Thursday, August 20, 2020, and feel it falls short in acknowledging key points about transparency, accountability and harm to the Black community.
We stand with the community harmed in this act of hate and racism and want to center the voices and experiences of Black people in the medical setting and surrounding community. The videos from the death of George Floyd showed that at every step he was denied basic medical care and compassion, starting with the police and continuing with the paramedics. This is an all too common experience for Black people. We, as a medical community, need to work toward eliminating racism in medicine and earning the trust of the communities we serve.
We see how this incident is connected to the systems of oppression and structural violence held up by the medical community. It is not lost on us that during the same week that University of Minnesota Associate Professor Rachel Hardeman, PhD, published her work on the improved survival of Black infants when cared for by Black physicians, a white medical student defaced a memorial and center for community healing for Black members of our community.
How can our Black patients trust and partner with us for meaningful, effective health care if we first do not prove ourselves to be worthy of that trust?
We support the medical students at the University of Minnesota asking for accountability of our colleague and the culture of medicine that perpetuates this behavior. Medical students that speak up against injustices put their careers at risk when disrupting the status quo. We stand with them in challenging the systems that discriminate against Black patients, even as they hold their colleague accountable. We need more physicians speaking truth to power if we aim to work toward health equity and justice.
In solidarity, MAFP Resident & Medical Student Advocates