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CMA President Peter N. Bretan, Jr., M.D., statement on George Floyd death and institutionalized racism

June 01, 2020
Area(s) of Interest: Advocacy 


California Medical Association (CMA) President Peter N. Bretan, Jr., M.D., released the following statement in response to the death of George Floyd and institutionalized racism in America:

"The physicians of the California Medical Association were among the millions of Americans horrified by the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota. The seeming indifference to his suffering before his death is a glaring reminder that institutionalized racism remains endemic to the United States. His senseless death also requires us to confront the epidemic of state-sanctioned violence against people of color. As physicians dedicated to healing, we cannot choose to ignore the consequences of hatred and discrimination because we know they contribute to disparities in health outcomes for communities of color. They also negatively impact every facet of our lives from public safety and criminal justice to economic opportunity and public health.

"We respect and commend the professional ideals of those serving in law enforcement. We also acknowledge the sacrifices of those committed to protecting and serving our communities with honor. But we cannot ignore the systemic problems embedded within our justice system that endanger the lives of Black and Brown communities. We cannot tolerate any culture that cultivates the infliction of racial violence and mistreatment of its people. This means we must also examine the systems and practices of our own medical profession.

"Our profession has its own history of abuses of Black and Brown bodies in the name of advancing medical science. We also understand the unconscious biases and prejudices that codify policies and programs disproportionately harming communities of color. We must do more to eliminate health inequities that undermine our state’s public health and collective well-being.

"Through CMA, we support physicians using their influence to create solutions that disrupt the generations of institutionalized racism that fostered the tragic circumstances we are currently witnessing in our country. Many CMA physicians already work in partnership with health care and community leaders to formulate and execute programs aimed at addressing racial and ethnic inequities. Together, we can do even more to achieve our goal of health equity and truthfully represent the values of compassion and humanism that define our noble profession."

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