Duke Medical School Labels Professional Norms As ‘White Supremacy Culture’

Duke University School of Medicine has drawn significant attention for its controversial stance on professional norms, labeling aspects such as timeliness, individualism and dress codes as part of “White supremacy culture.” This assertion is part of their “anti-racism strategic plan,” launched in June 2021, which aims to dismantle perceived systemic racism within the institution.

The 42-page document, titled “Dismantling Racism and Advancing Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the School of Medicine,” includes an 18-month priority initiative focusing on diversity and condemning what it describes as “White supremacy culture.” According to the plan, this culture privileges White individuals and discriminates against non-Western and non-White professional standards.

The plan identifies characteristics of this culture as “perfectionism, belief that there’s only one right way, power hoarding, individualism, sense of urgency and defensiveness.” These elements, they argue, implicitly uphold White supremacy by adhering to Western-centric norms.

This approach has sparked considerable debate, particularly as some states like Florida and Texas take legislative steps to remove diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives from educational institutions. Conversely, Duke’s reaffirmation of its commitment to DEI in January 2023 underscores a continuing dedication influenced by the Black Lives Matter protests following George Floyd’s death.

Vice Dean of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Kevin Thomas emphasized five priority areas: inclusive culture, leadership capacity and organizational accountability, longitudinal learning, equitable retention and recruitment practices, and assessment and research. Dean Dr. Mary E. Klotman highlighted the plan’s flexibility and long-term commitment to these goals.

Despite the controversy, Duke stands by its initiatives, urging members of its community to contribute to these collective goals. Fox News Digital, which brought attention to the plan, reported that Duke had not immediately responded to requests for comment.