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In this article, we draw upon recent ethical arguments by Zheng and Young to explain our experience applying the social connection model of responsibility to structural racism in medicine. We propose that taking responsibility for structural racism must begin with acknowledging, studying, and learning from localized, particular instances of racism. Such practices raise personal and institutional consciousness about racism and injustice, creating a knowledge base from which effective action is possible. We describe our experiences engaging with responsibility for structural racism as a small group of scholars dedicated to learning more about our institution’s history and our own agency in altering its future trajectory. Our learning and introspection were developed over multiple sessions in the 2019–2020 academic year when the authors participated in a Medical Ethics Forum Fellowship.
The Medical Ethics Forum Fellowship (the Forum) of the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) is composed of a diverse group of interdisciplinary faculty members, students, and practicing health professionals. The precise membership of the group changes every year, with a number of members continuing for multiple years. Each academic year the Forum focuses on a specific bioethical issue of current interest. Our focus for the academic year 2019–2020 was race and ethnicity in 21st century health care. This paper is the result of our year-long deliberations based on study of the relevant literature, monthly discussions, as well as personal presentations and discussions with nationally known scholars in this field.


Racism, Medical Ethics, Health Care, Injustice, Responsibility, Medical Education, Interdisciplinary


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