Greetings Members of the Student National Medical Association,
As many of you are aware, USA Today released an article discussing the slow rate of enrollment of African-Americans in medical school in which I was featured. We are thankful to USA Today for reaching out to the Student National Medical Association to share our opinion on this important topic as our mission is to support current and future underrepresented students in medicine.
I wanted to provide clarification on remarks in the article that are quoted by me. The article makes mention of my Haitian ethnic background and is followed by a statement that African-Americans might not encourage their children as much. While I discussed my parents’ origins and their encouragement for me to pursue a career in medicine, I did not imply that African-American parents discourage their children from doing the same. In my conversation, I was asked how my parents being from another country influenced my decision to go to medical school and how that might be different compared to other groups. My speculation was that for children who are immigrants from countries where everyone looks similar, the idea of pursuing careers like medicine are not out of the norm because it is a common sight. In the United States, where physicians who identify as Black make up only approximately 4 percent of the physician workforce, the lack of Black doctors in certain communities may potentially create an environment where children do not have the opportunity to receive the same level of encouragement because of the lack of role models. This may be compounded if guardians or parents have not had interactions with physicians who look like them. My remarks did not imply that African-American parents encouraged their children less than immigrant parents, unlike what has been paraphrased in the article.
As the article reads, I recognize that the implied comparison between immigrants and African Americans is offensive and I want to apologize for any hurt it may have caused. I understand that for many, these remarks may have unintentionally triggered a stereotype known as "elevated minority status." As the National President, I want to make it clear that I fully believe in the mission of this organization and would never make comments that would negatively reflect people of color from any background.
While I am glad that our organization is gaining recognition and frequently becoming more involved in larger conversations surrounding issues in healthcare inequality, my hope is that I have provided further clarification on what might be deemed inflammatory and echo an inaccurate and hurtful narrative about issues surrounding disparities in the representation of physicians of color.
Yours in SNMA,