May 16, 2021

To the American Medical Association (AMA) Board of Trustees and other members of AMA senior leadership:

We, the senior leadership of The Institute for Antiracism in Medicine (IAM), are writing to you to provide updates regarding a petition that we virtually circulated in response to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) podcast released on February 24, 2021 entitled: “Structural Racism for Doctors – What Is it?”

As you are aware, as a group of health care professionals, patients and community members committed to the advancement of antiracism in medicine, we were deeply concerned by the claims made in this podcast from JAMA.

The petition penned by IAM calls for institutional change within JAMA that will work to dissolve the structural racism that permeates the field of Medicine. The actions specifically requested by the petition seek to implement change that would create equitable policies promoting the science and art of medicine for the betterment of public health. We have enclosed the petition signed by over 8,800 (as of 7:30AM 5/16/2021) health care and non-health care members of our community who are in support of our requests.

In particular, the petition requested the formal review of the leadership displayed by Dr. Howard Bauchner as Editor-in-Chief, including actions suggesting a failure to diversify the editorial staff and evidence that he has consistently demonstrated discriminatory behavior in his work in this role.

We were recently pleased to review the AMA’s Organizational Strategic Plan to Embed Racial Justice and Advance Health Equity. We commend your goals to embed equity throughout the AMA enterprise and foster truth, reconciliation, racial healing and transformation. We value working alongside you to attain these goals by requesting accountability for the problematic editorial leadership decisions of JAMA.

We are also aware of the independent investigation currently exploring the actions and inactions of Dr Howard Bauchner as acting Editor-in-Chief of JAMA. In solidarity, we would like to share a few of the first-hand accounts featuring Dr. Bauchner, in particular, that have been shared with IAM:

“I was told by Howard Bauchner that the word racism could not be used for fear of losing readers. this was 2016. the lead writer almost withdrew the piece.” – Anonymous 3/10/2021

“I was told that ovarian cancer was a ‘women’s issue’ and finding should be directed towards a gynecology journal” – Anonymous 3/9/2021

“Received Patronizing emails from the editor-in-chief on how well-known he is” -Anonymous 3/8/2021

We believe strongly in the importance of advocating for our healthcare communities’ safety and well-being and we hope you will join us in doing so by committing to concrete changes within your organization–including the replacement of Dr. Bauchner as Editor-in-Chief. We believe the evidence included here shows a history of problematic behavior which can only be responsibly rectified by his removal.

In Unity,

Jessica Richardson, MD
Co-Founder, Institute for Antiracism in Medicine

Brittani James, MD
Co-Founder, Institute for Antiracism in Medicine

Brandi Jackson, MD
Co-Founder, Institute for Antiracism in Medicine