Structural Racism and Supporting Black Lives – A Pharmacist’s Vow amid COVID-19

  • Nicole D. Avant University of Cincinnati
Keywords: structural competence, health inequalities; health inequities; medically underserved groups; social inequalities in health, social determinants of health, structural determinants of health, health equity, Black health


COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting Black communities in the United States due to racial structures that increase exposure (e.g., densely populated areas, substandard housing, overrepresentation in essential work) and promote underlying diseases that exacerbate COVID-19. This manuscript uses Oath of a Pharmacist as a framework to propose a set of best practices for pharmacists to mitigate inequities such as achieve competence in the ideology of structural racism; identify systems of power that jeopardize Black health; value Black voices; name the socio-structural determinants of health; define race as a socio-political construction; name historical and contemporary racism; apply resources equitably based on need; collect robust data to solve complex problems; diminish bias and view patients holistically in the contexts of inequities; and advocate for Black lives. While race is biological fiction, Black individuals are at an increased risk for COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths than their white counterparts due to navigating generations of racist practices that often converge with other inequities—such as sexism, classism. To describe these racial health disparities, structured, racial disadvantage is commonly ignored while personal choices and clinical care are highlighted as the culprits. Achieving health equity requires comprehension, acceptance, and assessment of structural racism, and pharmacists are highly trusted, uniquely positioned healthcare professionals who, through their knowledge, skills, and resources, can help attenuate the effects of structural racism to support Black lives.


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Received 2020-08-07
Accepted 2020-12-29
Published 2021-06-10
Community Engagement