Letter to dvm360: ‘Whitest profession in America’ is inappropriate word choice

January 15, 2020
dvm360, dvm360 February 2020, Volume 51, Issue 2

One reader thinks this phrase describing veterinary medicine is damaging, not inspiring.

I would like to respond to the article, “What it would take to change the whitest profession in America?” from the December 2019 issue of dvm360 magazine. (See the online version here: “Institutional change in the whitest profession in America: Veterinary medicine”.)

I feel the terminology “whitest profession in America” is inappropriate. This is at least the second time I have seen this statement published in veterinary journals. This statement implies that somehow our profession has historically, intentionally discriminated against under-represented minorities, which I do not believe is the case.

Such terminology is unwarranted and does a disservice to the many generations of dedicated, hardworking and compassionate veterinarians who have spent most of their lives building up our profession to the level of respect it enjoys today. Survey after survey of the general public consistently ranks veterinary medicine as one of the most admired and trusted professions in America.

Using the statement “whitest profession in America” does nothing to promote diversity and in my opinion only serves to alienate a large segment of our colleagues, like myself, who happen to be Caucasian but support diversity initiatives across our profession. I would be willing to suggest that most of us have quietly encouraged, mentored, worked with and served underrepresented minorities throughout our careers, without fanfare or expectation of praise for doing so.

We should welcome all who are qualified to our profession, equally, regardless of minority status, not because of it, and not to just make our profession “less white.”

—Paul Clemente, DVM
Fort Wayne, Indiana

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