Group of AAD Doctors Submit Resolution to End DEI in Dermatology

TikTok influencer and dermatology medical school student Joel Bervell sheds light on a resolution, which appears to have been removed, that seeks to end DEI practices in dermatology. The resolution, which began to circulate on February 16th, signed by fellow dermatologists, lists a few reasons for why DEI should end in dermatology, including saying that it isn’t truly inclusive. 

Dr. Caroline Robinson, a Black dermatologist, raised concerns regarding the dangers of the resolution and faced accusations of doxing and a lack of professionalism. 

The resolution claims that the American Academy of Dermatology’s DEI initiatives create a “binary” system, which doesn’t allow for neutrality between “racist and nonracist” and “oppressors and oppressed.” It also claims that the initiatives “control speech” and “stifle thought and professional conversations regarding difficult issues.” It also calls the initiatives “antisemitic.” 

“In my own medical school classes, I rarely learned what skin conditions looked like on darker skin tones,” Bervell says in the TikTok. “But this resolution wants to shut down DEI initiatives that support research, leadership conferences, education programs about skin of color and summer camps for young students wanting to go into medicine.”

Dermatology, like the signers of the resolution, is an overwhelmingly white field. 64 percent of the specialty identifies as white, meaning that most people of color will not have access to a dermatologist who may be familiar with treating skin of color, or who may be aware of ethnic practices like hair care.  

In response to the resolution, three doctors have started a petition calling for the expansion–not removal–of the AAD’s DEI initiatives. The petition points out the disparities and how lack of representation in the profession impacts public health. According to the petition, not only are patients not trusting doctors that don’t look like them, but lack of racial concordance can lead to poorer health outcomes, particularly in the Black community. 


A group of Doctors part of the American Academy of Dermatology (@aadskin) submitted a resolution to “Sunset All Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programs. The resolution claims (without proof) that DEI is contributing to a decrease in the ability to provide unbiased and equal care for everyone, and is perceived as being filled with antisemitism. In the United States, less than 4% of all Dermatologists are Black. What is well documented is that racial health disparities in outcomes for dermatologic conditions like Melanoma and Lyme disease continue to exist, and medical schools still fail to include darker skin tones in their curriculum. Removing programs that DEI initiatives support like research, mentorship opportunities, and education sessions about skin color will set back the little progress that has been made. I’ve put a full link to the resolution in question as well as a link to sign a petition to expand DEI efforts in the AAD. Consider signing it. #joelbervell #dermatology #healthequity #dermondarkerskin

♬ original sound – joelbervell

The American Academy of Dermatology’s website currently has a section devoted to skin concerns of darker people. That includes hyperpigmentation, bumps from shaving, and hair loss from styling. These conditions may require different care than what would be prescribed for someone with Caucasian skin. However, only three percent of dermatologists are Black and 4.2 percent are Hispanic, despite being 13.4 percent and 18.5 percent of the population, respectively.  With that lack of diversity comes poor outcomes and care practices. Also, less than one percent identifies as Native American or Pacific Islander.

Furthermore, patients of color face adverse outcomes with later diagnoses of diseases like melanoma or Lymes disease. Screenings for skin conditions typically look at white skin, leaving people with darker skin at risk. Bervell says that even while currently in medical school, he hasn’t learned much about skin conditions on Black skin. 

The AAD DEI initiative started in 2022 as a way to fix inequities in underserved communities.  Ending DEI initiatives could impact research, mentorship, conferences, education programs, and summer camps for youth interested in dermatology. The resolution, however, offers no alternatives or solutions to continue to foster diversity if the AAD were to “sunset” its initiatives. 

“There is absolutely the need for broader inclusion in the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion framework,” says Bervell. “But ‘sunsetting’ DEI programs, particularly with nothing in its place will disrupt the pipeline for future dermatologists of color and actively harm Black patients.”

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