In 2010, a report by the American College of Physicians highlighted that African Americans fared worse that peers on 19 of 38 core quality-of-care measures with a 2008 report attributing these disparities to the fact that physicians seeing high numbers of low-income minority patients are often paid less and provided less resources. Overall, 55 percent of physicians agree that “minority patients generally receive lower quality care than white patients,” with 62 percent adding that “they have witnessed a patient receive poor quality health care because of the patient’s race or ethnicity.”

3. African Americans are strikingly underrepresented in medicine.

While African Americans compromise approximately 13 percent of the total U.S. population, only 4 percent of U.S. physicians are African American. Of all students accepted into medical school across the country in 2012, only 1,332 were African American. And in looking over the past decade, the rate of African-American males applying to medical school has fallen while rates of Asian and Hispanic male applicants has risen during the same period. With physician workforce diversity leading to improved access and increased patient satisfaction, these numbers are especially troubling.

As medical students, health care professionals, and supporters all across the country come together for #WhiteCoats4BlackLives demonstrations, we do so with the understanding that the status quo is not acceptable, that the path we are headed down is not sustainable, and our lack of discussion on race in this country is not healthy. We have issues of disparity that should be talked about, challenges of inequity that need to be addressed, and obstacles like poverty and violence that must be overcome.

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Decades ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us that “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable … Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle.” And as we have witnessed sacrifice and watched suffering, it is now upon us to struggle forward — to struggle as individuals, as communities, and as a nation towards a better tomorrow.

Because if we don’t and we wait too long, we too will find ourselves screaming for mercy, and we too will be ignored.

This article was originally published here and reprinted by permission of the original author. 


Hammad Moses Khan is a medical student, activist and public health researcher. Follow him on Twitter at

#WhiteCoats4BlackLives: 3 Things We Need to Talk About  was originally published on

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