Medical Journals Reluctant to Tackle Racism, Critics Say

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After the JAMA podcast, Dr. Givens to list the race, gender, and ethnicity of editors and members of the editorial board of the JAMA Journal Network and the New England Journal of Medicine. The current editor of JAMA Dermatology may be “the only non-white editor in the entire history of all of these journals,” he said.

Dr. Givens, who is Black, said he had no objection to the subject of the controversial podcast. But to discuss whether structural racism exists without the presence of experts on the subject or black doctors is “a complete breakdown of scientific thinking,” he said. “If that’s not structural racism or even metastructural racism, I don’t know what it is.”

In October, Dr. Givens Dr. Rubin, the editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, and Dr. Bauchner and pointed out the differences in the line-up of their magazines.

“I note with humor but absolute sincerity that there are more editors named David in your magazines than Black and LatinX editors combined or East Asian and South Asian editors separately,” he wrote. Dr. Rubin replied and arranged a meeting to learn more. Dr. Bauchner replied, according to Dr. Givens don’t.

“People are just really really resistant to the possibility of someone calling them racists, or of us suggesting that they have racist views or ideas,” said Dr. Givens. “And that’s why there’s this reluctance, or really, this tendency to end the conversation when it leads there.”

In an interview, Dr. Rubin agreed that the magazine’s staff was not diverse enough, but said the low turnover among editors was a challenge for hiring new staff.

Since arriving, the magazine has added four editors and four members of the editorial committee, and in June launched a section of the magazine’s website called Race and Medicine. Although the magazine doesn’t include any self-reported race information, half of the new additions are colored and three – including the new editor-in-chief – women, he said.

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