An Attempt to Heal Rifts in Medicine: Collective Apology and the American Medical Association’s Attempts at Reconciliation with the African-American Community
The history of organized medicine in the United States has been characterized by unequal access for patients of color and direct and indirect harms to minority patients. Although the formal segregation of the medical profession into the white American Medical Association (AMA) and the black National Medical Association (NMA) ended during the 1960s, the legacy of separate and unequal access to medicine continues to affect African American patients and providers in the present. In recognition of this legacy, in 2008 the AMA apologized to black physicians. The apology, while a generic success, had little effect in gaining forgiveness, nor did it garner reconciliation between the two communities. This chapter offers a close examination of the context in which the AMA’s apology was delivered. Following an analysis of the text of the apology in its initial and refined forms, we turn to the audience’s reaction and calls for action beyond the apology. We offer implications for thinking of apologies from the intended audience’s view as a pathway towards fuller reconciliation.
Bates, B. R. & Edwards, J.A. (2013). An Attempt to Heal Rifts in Medicine: Collective Apology and the American Medical Association’s Attempts at Reconciliation with the African-American Community. In D. Cuypers, D. Janssen, J. Haers & B. Segaert (Eds.), Public Apology between Ritual and Regret: Symbolic Excuses on False Pretenses or True Reconciliation out of Sincere Regret? (pp. 80-101). Amsterdam, New York: Rodopi.
Virtual Commons Citation
Bates, Benjamin R. and Edwards, Jason A. (2013). An Attempt to Heal Rifts in Medicine: Collective Apology and the American Medical Association’s Attempts at Reconciliation with the African-American Community. In Communication Studies Faculty Publications. Paper 39.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/commstud_fac/39