ASTS: Boldly Against Racism

Jul 28, 2020
Racism is morally wrong, inhuman, and unjust. In recent times we have all witnessed and lived through events that continue to illustrate that racism is an integral part of our society.

 This systemic racism, which has been particularly manifested against Black Americans and other vulnerable minorities (Asians, Hispanics), has eroded the very true nature of our country, a country that is diverse in its makeup and proclaims equal opportunity in the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. Racism has existed in many forms for generations and centuries against Black Americans and continues to result in inequality, unfair treatment with lack of justice, poor access to healthcare, and limited opportunities for social and economic upward mobility. In addition, racism has evolved into a chronic state of inaction without palpable progress. It is a public and social health crisis that allows a worse deterministic fate for Black Americans and under-represented minorities. This has been further highlighted with the disproportionate mortality during the COVID pandemic among underrepresented minorities, especially African Americans. Our profession has embodied ethical principles to provide care regardless of race, color, creed, gender, age, sexual orientation, or place of origin. Racism needs to be eradicated. Anti-racism and diversity save lives. Representing nearly 1900 transplant professionals and surgeons, the American Society of Transplant Surgeons (ASTS) stands boldly against racism of any kind against all under-represented minorities and especially black Americans.

The ASTS has a long history of recognizing the need for change. For many years, the ASTS incorporated Diversity as one of its values and pillars. In addition, the ASTS Diversity Issues Committee has focused on under-represented minorities in transplantation. Indeed, the recruitment, training, and deployment of a diverse healthcare workforce has never been more important. Considering recent events, ASTS will do more to advance diversity and inclusion across the organization and discipline. We will enact significant change to succeed in reversing centuries of racial injustice. We must stand with our partners and communities of any race and build coalitions to enact bold change. ASTS shall position itself and align its actions and policies Boldly Against Racism. We must elevate the conversations and engage our constituencies and partner organizations and governmental agencies. We must empower our people to speak up and engage against racism and be heard and act. We must actively provide tools and resources in an intentional and ongoing manner to inform, enable, and act with expectations. We must strive to improve opportunities for all under-represented minorities, improve access to care, and eliminate disparities in patient outcomes. We are more than hopeful that, with the right mindset and our collective efforts as a community, we can make a long-lasting difference.

ASTS Action Plan

The ASTS Boldly Against Racism campaign is about making a positive and permanent change in diversity and inclusion. The intention is to continue to cultivate and maintain an environment that welcomes and fosters diverse persons, call out racism and set ambitious and collaborative objectives. We are all witnesses to the devastating health effects of historical and current acts of racism and oppression for people of color, particularly Black individuals. Thus, we, the leadership and members of the ASTS, are committed to eradicating all forms of racism.

The ASTS Boldly Against Racism national campaign is a coordinated effort to directly address racism and promote permanent and positive change. To accomplish this, the ASTS will employ the following tactics: 

  • Educate the ASTS Council and Committee members and the membership at large on issues of racism, its manifestations, conscious and unconscious bias, its impact on the health of people of color, and strategies to impact positive and tangible change. We will:
    • Incorporate this education with onboarding of new Council and Committee members.
    • Include diversity and anti-racism module in the fellowship educational curriculum.
    • Include diversity content and health disparities research at our regular scientific meetings.
  • Hold townhall meetings to engage the ASTS community and experts on the scholarship of race, racism, and equity in open dialogue to educate our members and identify priorities and next steps to facilitate real change.
  • Incorporate at our annual ASTS Winter Symposia and our regular education meetings invited talks by experts on the scholarship of race, racism, and health equity, including relevant content on racism in society, healthcare and transplantation.
  • We will collaborate with partner organizations, including the American Society of Transplantation (AST), the National Medical Association (NMA), and the Society of Black Academic Surgeons (SBAS) to reach a wider audience and affirm our commitments to the broader surgical and transplant communities.
  • Collaborate with our sister transplant organizations by joining forces to align our goals, achieve robust impact, and steer national policy that would support racial equity in access to medical care and improved transplant outcomes.
  • Revise ASTS Bylaws to ensure continued and sustainable policies and activities that advance our established goals of diversity, equity, inclusion and opportunity.
  • Designate a new position of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisor to serve on the ASTS Executive Council. This person will ascertain the consistent and continuous commitment to the ASTS diversity agenda and assure accountability to agreed-upon metrics and measures of success.
  • The ASTS has a robust values framework which states Diversity as one of its key values. We celebrate diversity and consider this part of our fabric and a strength that we cherish as a community. We also acknowledge the contributions of all people and people of color to the field of organ transplantation and transplantation surgery. We will articulate how this ASTS value will translate into action as part of our short- and long-term strategic plan and educate all our members on how diversity saves lives and how structural and systemic racism and socioeconomic disadvantage result in health care disparities, poor access to transplantation and worse outcomes.
  • Build and expand on the work of the ASTS Diversity Issues Committee by doing the following:
    • Broaden the scope of the Committee and build upon prior work.
    • Dedicate funding for ASTS members to promote the scholarship of identifying and addressing structural barriers, including systemic racism, that contribute to racial disparities in transplant access and outcomes.
    • Inform policy changes which will guide needed efforts to address barriers contributing to disparities in access to care, education and professional development.
    • Continue to expand on diversity research scholarships and supporting people of color and under-represented minorities.
  • We commit to the recruitment, training, and deployment of a diverse transplant workforce. We will expand on the work of Pipeline Task Force by incorporating students, residents, and ASTS members from under-represented minorities to ensure better and continued access to transplant training, education and society participation.
  • Revise demographic member information to offer the option to state ethnicity, race, and gender identification.
  • Work with our corporate sponsors to ascertain adoption of progressive diversity policies that align with ASTS diversity values.
  • Continue to evaluate our progress in our diversity agenda by measuring against our proposed metrics and seeking input from our members.