Twin doctors battle entrenched racism in the medical world

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Brittani James, Brandi Jackson

Dr. Brittani James, left, and her twin sister Dr. Brandi Jackson stand for a portrait in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago, Sunday, May 2, 2021. The identical twin doctors who have fought bigotry all their lives have a lofty new mission: dismantling racism in medicine. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Identical twin doctors who have fought bigotry all their lives have a lofty new mission: dismantling racism in medicine.

At 33, Brittani James and Brandi Jackson are teaching other doctors how to see and undo racism in their work. The pandemic and the inequities it laid bare show the stakes are high.

“I feel like speaking the truth about racism in medicine is really risky,” Jackson said.

The pair won free rides to college.

“For every two twins like this, there were hundreds and thousands of talented bright Black people who at every turn are facing obstacles and barriers,” Jackson said.

James, an internal medicine doctor, and Jackson, a psychiatrist, have developed antiracist coursework used in two Chicago medical schools.

They’ve co-founded the Institute for Antiracism in Medicine, where physicians can earn continuing medical education credit for taking classes on how their profession has made Black patients sicker.  

Their latest achievement? Helping lead a charge against the American Medical Association after the influential research journal it publishes raised dubious questions about structural racism.

Creating black doctor coats is another goal: not as radical as it sounds. Nineteenth century physicians wore black coats instead of white.

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