As the son of a Brazilian mother and American father, I welcomed her praise of diversity, but Dr. Reede’s speech made no meaningful mention of “excellence.” Surgery is a discipline that demands excellence in all its stages, from training to practice. Should diversity supplant quality in surgeon performance, patient care would suffer. Remarkably, Dr. Reede’s vision was met with rapturous acceptance by the college’s leadership, and the unqualified push for diversity became a lodestar for the group.
My concern deepened in 2020, when the college convened a “task force on racial issues.” It presented a series of recommendations on how the college can “confront racism in surgery” by creating a new office of diversity, advocating for policy reforms, and adding “anti-racism to existing ACS values.” The college later hosted a leadership retreat for all surgical societies promoting “DEI and anti-racism,” with keynote speaker Ibram X. Kendi, the most recognized advocate of the “antiracist” philosophy. Mr. Kendi argues that racial discrimination is necessary to right past wrongs.