Our Commitment: Addressing Racism

Elizabeth Meade, MD, FAAP
President, Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics

It is difficult to know how to write this month’s message, to address the sadness and outrage our country is experiencing, and to acknowledge that we are still deeply failing many of our fellow citizens, colleagues, patients, friends, and communities. The recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many other Black men, women, and children in the United States illustrate the ongoing individual, systemic, and institutional racism that continues to harm and kill Black Americans.

Our mission at WCAAP has long included fighting for equity in child health across all domains, and we cannot achieve that equity without addressing racism head-on.  We began 2020 with an intent to implement principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion into our leadership structure, legislative advocacy, organizational mission, and population health efforts. We knew why it was so important to do this body of work but struggled with how to start knowing that our members, board members, and other leaders are all at different stages of awareness and knowledge on the topic. We failed to move with the speed and depth our children and families need and deserve.  The Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics is deeply and centrally committed to anti-racism and to equity for the children and families of Washington state, for our members, and for all people of color in the communities we serve and live in. These values must be manifest in our leadership, decision-making, advocacy, and direct work supporting practicing clinicians.

We will be doing this work and sharing it with you. We must stand up and speak out, both individually and as a medical organization. We must continue to reiterate that racism is prevalent and dangerous and detrimental to child and family health. It is harmful to our patients and to all of our community members who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. It is harmful to our society, and to humanity as a whole.

Racism is a public health crisis. WCAAP commits to working to dismantle racist systems and achieve equity for Washington’s children, to regularly sharing resources for individual education and action, and to listening to the perspectives and experiences of our members. We commit to ongoing learning, unlearning, and open conversation. We will continue to publicly address racism and oppression and to speak out about how it affects our patients and communities. I encourage you to think about how to continue your education in this space individually. As always, I welcome your input and perspective, and hope that you are finding moments to care for yourselves.

Anti-Racism Resources
Thank you to many WCAAP members who have recently shared resources to improve our understanding of the effects of racism on child and family well-being and how we can play a role in dismantling racist systems. We have put together several resources as a starting point. Each month in forthcoming issues of Developments, a WCAAP member will share a resource they have found helpful and why. If you are interested to contribute a few words about a resource you have utilized please let us know.

  1. AAP: Traumatic Impact of Racism on Young People 
  2. AAP Statement: Dismantle Racism at Every Level
  3. Healthy Children: Talking to Children About Racial Bias
  4. Anti-racism reading list
  5. APHA: Addressing Law Enforcement Violence as a Public Health Issue
  6. Pediatrics: Police, Equity and Child Health
  7. Campaign Zero: Policy Solutions to End Police Violence
  8. Teaching Tolerance: Six Steps to Speak Up
  9. The Praxis Podcast with Edwin Lindo, JD