The American Medical Association has issued a language guide that warns against the use of words and concepts like “meritocracy,” “‘discovery’ of the Americas” and “‘free’ market.”
The 55-page guide — “Advancing Health Equity” — was released Oct. 28 in conjunction with the Association of American Medical Colleges. The document says in its preamble that discussions ”in the field of equity begin with the recognition that our current state is built on the land and labor of others in ways that violated the fundamental principles of equity.”
It adds that health inequities “are produced and sustained by deeply entrenched social systems that intentionally and unintentionally prevent people from reaching their full potential. Inequities cannot be understood or adequately addressed if we focus only on individuals, their behavior or their biology.”
“We have the opportunity – and the obligation – to do better, and to achieve more equitable outcomes,” it continues. “We believe that a critical component of that effort involves a deep analysis of the language, narrative and concepts that we use in our work.”
Later in the document, the guide lists “key terms and concepts” that should “serve as a starting point for reflection.”
Under “‘Discovery’ of the Americas” it says: “The land known as the Americas was not discovered; it was conquered and appropriated. This violent acquisition and genocide perpetuated by European settlers followed by centuries of ill-informed and harmful federal policy (e.g., boarding schools, urban relocation) by the US caused the destruction of many Indigenous peoples’ culture and way of life.”
The guide defines meritocracy as a “social system where social advancement is based on one’s capabilities and merits rather than family, wealth, or social background and connections. It is also associated with the commonly heard phrase of ’pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.’”
Under white privilege, the guide says: ”Unquestioned and unearned sets of advantages, entitlements, benefits and options that people have solely because they are white. Generally, white people who experience such privilege do so without being conscious of it.”
The guide suggests it is “critical to address all areas of marginalization and inequity” caused by “sexism, class oppression, homophobia, xenophobia and ableism.”
“Given the deep divides that exist between groups in the United States, understanding and empathy can be extremely challenging for many because of an inability to really ‘walk a mile in another’s shoes’ in a racialized sense,” the report says. “Collectively, we have an opportunity and obligation to overcome these fissures and create spaces for understanding and healing.”
One of the works referenced by the AMA is Ibram X. Kendi’s “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.” Kendi, a professor at Boston University, is among the most prominent proponents of critical race theory, or CRT.
The guide’s glossary says CRT was “born out of both legal studies and education scholarship, this is a framework that centers experiential knowledge, challenges dominant ideology, and mobilizes interdisciplinary action and research in order to uncover inequalities related to race and racism and other intersectional identities and/or experiences.”
”This is just the latest front in the Left’s campaign to inject critical race theory into every corner of America,” Jessica Anderson, executive director of the conservative Heritage Action, told Fox News, which first reported on the AMA guide.
“This document, published by the largest medical association in the country, is a brazen attempt to politicize the medical field and subject health care workers to far-Left speech police,” she said. “While the Left continues to falsely claim that CRT isn’t real, Americans are noticing what’s happening, and they’re fighting back. From the waiting room to the classroom, families are standing up to reject this racist ideology.”
AMA president Gerald Harmon explained the purpose for the guide in a blog post in October, writing that “language must change and evolve over time based on new revelations and a deeper understanding.”
“The dominant narratives in American medicine and society reflect the values and interests of the historically more privileged socioeconomic groups — white, heterosexual, able-bodied, cisgendered, male, wealthy, English-speaking, Christian, U.S.-born,” Harmon said.
“These narratives have been deeply rooted in value systems and ingrained in cultural practices that have given preference to the interests of society’s most powerful social groups. But they can also be wielded as a weapon to oppress others,” Harmon added.
The AMA guide said the “biological narrative of race” has permeated the country’s social institutions for centuries.
“These narratives constantly shift and adapt as conditions change and serve to rationalize the privileges of racism that sustain white supremacy,” it said. “They perpetuate cumulative advantage and unearned benefits for whites, often blaming people of color for their own conditions, avoiding social accountability for racist oppression.”
The teaching of CRT in Virginia schools became one of the top issues in the state’s recent governor’s race. Victorious Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin focused much of his closing campaign argument on education, namely parents’ right to have a say in what their children are learning.