History Counts–And It Needs to Be Complete
It has often been shown that those who do not study history are doomed to repeat its mistakes. The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery has a >130-year history, which we must continue to review. Understanding our history is so important that JBJS staff and trustees have invested in a 6-month project to get our history encapsulated and published on our website for continuous reference and reflection. The history of our journal contains mistakes—one stark example of which is promulgating the use of metal-on-metal arthroplasty.
But history is not complete until all the stories are told. Incomplete history is particularly evident with our North American native populations and individuals of African heritage. Here history is recorded with formerly conscious and now primarily unconscious (I hope) bias against accurately detailing the important contributions of native and Black citizens.
In the November 4, 2020 issue of The Journal, Dr. Joel Boyd does us great service by setting the record straight regarding the contributions of Black Canadians and Americans to the sport of ice hockey. (Our collective history in orthopaedics has particular relevance in sports.) Black athletes were on the ice at the sport’s very inception and in the early formation of competitive leagues. Dr. Boyd’s history, which focuses on the Black Hockey League of the Maritimes and Willie O’Ree, the “Jackie Robinson of hockey,” is replete with bias against acknowledging these contributions and against allowing non-Whites to compete for the sport’s highest trophies.
Let us all study these contributions, recognize their importance, and vow to be ever-vigilant for any bias, conscious or unconscious, in our thinking and conduct. May Dr. Boyd’s important exercise in completing this bit of history repeat itself in sport, science, and medicine across the board.
Marc Swiontkowski, MD