American Journal of Bioethics.

White Privilege and Playing It Safe

In March of 2016 AJOB published an article, “Bioethicists Can and Should Contribute to Addressing Racism.” Authors Danis, Wilson, and White (2016) write, “This commitment [to justice] is manifest in an obligation to promote health equity—to ensure that all people have full and equal access to opportunities that enable them to lead healthy lives. Differences in health that are avoidable, unfair, and unjust represent inequitable health. As such, the discipline of bioethics has at its core mission a mandate to pay attention to and help address social injustices affecting African Americans.” The authors are right. Now how do we do it?

Many white bioethicists like myself have sidestepped robust engagement with systemic racism. Having not experienced racism first-hand, we have the privilege of ignoring it if we choose. However, the more I learn about the social determinants of health, structural racism, and implicit bias, the less complacent I become.

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Volume 18, Issue 1
June 2018