MDAAP Statement on Racism

Posted June 27, 2020

The tragic murder of George Floyd by a police officer, one of the countless examples of racially driven police brutality in the United States, has brought our communities to our knees and people of all colors and creeds to declare loudly together that Black Lives Matter. We have reached an inflection point where we can no longer deny or ignore the need for the urgent systematic dismantling of institutional racism that has existed in our country for four centuries.

As pediatricians, pediatric healthcare providers, public health officials, and researchers, we must acknowledge the effects of systemic racism on Maryland’s children and families. Systemic racism in our communities of color drives the lack of funding put into critical infrastructure and services including effective schools, reliable public transportation, accessible and affordable grocery stores, medical care, and mental health services. Environmental injustices are significant, with communities of color having less access to safe green space and disproportionately higher exposure to air pollutants, toxic waste, and effects of climate change including heat-related illness, flooded homes, and polluted floodwaters. Racism in the juvenile criminal justice system radically alters the trajectory and experiences of youth accused of non-violent crimes.

In July of 2019, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published its first Policy Statement titled The Impact of Racism on Child and Adolescent Health, authored by two of our Maryland Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics (MDAAP), members, Dr. Maria Trent and Dr. Jacqueline Dougé, along with Dr. Danielle Dooley. This seminal policy statement outlines the history of racism in the United States, describes the myriad of ways that racism permeates and negatively impacts the lives and health of children of color, and delineates necessary actions that pediatricians and pediatric healthcare providers, healthcare systems, schools, and local, state, and federal governments need to create unified communities where all children can thrive.

The MDAAP acknowledges that as an organization representing over 1,100 pediatricians and pediatric healthcare providers, we must do more to achieve equity for Maryland’s children and families, and be actively anti-racist in our future programs, services, and activities. To move towards this critical goal, Dr. Dougé will build and lead the new MDAAP Committee to Achieve Anti-Racism, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Dr. Dougé is the Medical Director of the Bureau of Health Services in the Howard County Health Department. She brings decades of public health and leadership experience along with a strong professional and personal commitment to racial equity. Dr. Dougé served on the National AAP Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion and has been interviewed widely on the topic of talking with children and families about race.

The MDAAP Committee to Achieve Anti-Racism, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion will work to reach the goals outlined in the AAP Policy Statement The Impact of Racism on Child and Adolescent Health, including:

  • Examination and diversification of our membership and leadership structure
  • Integration of racial equity into strategic planning priority areas
  • Development of trainings for pediatricians and pediatric healthcare providers to examine their own implicit biases
  • Development of trainings for pediatric practices on strategies to create culturally safe medical homes
  • Creation of local and state partnerships that facilitate our advocacy on youth justice
  • Advocacy for legislation that supports equitable schools, neighborhoods, clean environments, and safe play spaces, fair treatment of incarcerated youth, and climate justice

The MDAAP looks forward to working with our organization’s members and leadership, child health community partners, and local and state government leaders to achieve equity for all of our Maryland children.

Maria Brown, MD, EdM, FAAP, President, MDAAP
Loretta I. Hoepfner, MSOD, Executive Director, MDAAP
Jacqueline Dougé, MD, MPH, Chair, MDAAP Committee to Achieve Anti-Racism, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion