Breaking the Silence: Time to Talk About Race and Racism

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Abstract

Recent events in the United States have catalyzed the need for all educators to begin paying attention to and discovering ways to dialogue about race. No longer can health professions (HP) educators ignore or avoid these difficult conversations. HP students are now demanding them. Cultural sensitivity and unconscious bias training are not enough. Good will and good intentions are not enough. Current faculty development paradigms are no longer sufficient to meet the educational challenges of delving into issues of race, power, privilege, identity, and social justice.

Engaging in such conversations, however, can be overwhelmingly stressful for untrained faculty. The authors argue that before any curriculum on race and racism can be developed for HP students, and before faculty members can begin facilitating conversations about race and racism, faculty must receive proper training through intense and introspective faculty development. Training should cover how best to engage in, sustain, and deepen interracial dialogue on difficult topics such as race and racism within academic health centers (AHCs). If such faculty development training—in how to conduct interracial dialogues on race, racism, oppression, and the invisibility of privilege—is made standard at all AHCs, HP educators might be poised to actualize the real benefits of open dialogue and change.

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