Black Brother, are you safe? By Dr. Leonard Sowah

2nd Amendment Constitution cultural competency cultural sensitivity implicit bias injury prevention Public health Policy Racial Equity Uncategorized

For me my most favorite place in this world is my home, this does not hold true for my son though; he loves hotels. A few days ago I got the shock of my life. My whole world was turned upside down. As a black man in the US your safety is always a big question mark. One comedian D. L Hughley said the most dangerous place for a black man is in the imagination of white people. So my friend if you are white, please I need some help here, please make your imagination much safer for me. In September, 2018 Botham Jean, a successful young black man from Santa Lucia was shot and killed in his own apartment in Dallas, TX, take note that this was not a gang related murder, nor was there any drug involvement even though the police in a statement made it known that they found some marijuana in the young mans apartment.

Nio-pushing me
Me at home playing with  my son after a day at the office

So my white brothers and sisters please tell me what I need to do to be safe as a black man in America. Botham Shem Jean came to the US from Santa Lucia and continued his education here, got a good job and paid his taxes yet his own home was not safe enough for him. He was killed not by a thug but by a cop the very same people who are paid with our tax money to protect us. So what can the mouse do in a situation where the cat has the responsibility of protecting him? I am still scratching my head on this question.

But D. L Hughley once said that the risk that most of us black men and women face is not real. Yes the risk is not real because it is not a physical tangible entity, it is the imagination that America has artfully crafted about blacks in America that creates this unsafe situation. The fictionalized narrative that is ascribed without any discrimination on any member of this racial group is where the danger lies.

So white people give me some help;

  1. When you see me walking on the sidewalk with my phone please do not allow your imagination to replace my phone with a gun. 
  2. When I get lost and my cell phone is dead and I approach you for help do not remember the thug in the last Law and Order series you watched because this is not a movie but the real world and you are more likely to be attacked by another white person than you are to be attacked by me.
  3. This is specifically for white cops, I love guns and played with toy guns as a kid but I am afraid to buy a toy gun for my son because I know what your imagination can do to toy guns and soon you are going to feel threatened by my 8 or 12 year old. Please, if you see my son holding a toy gun and you are worried it is a real gun, just treat him like you would like your own son to be treated because his dark colored skin did not add 10 years to his age, he is still a kid like you were once.
  4. I know a lot of black and white women and over the years I have learned that sometimes humans of the female sex may not always be as patient and amiable as always. Most of the time we all just tell ourselves maybe it is that time of the month and laugh it off. Please remember this next time you stop a black women on the highway and she does not show you the respect you believe you deserve. Try not to take it against her especially if you happen to be a man and have never had blood flow involuntarily out of your genital orifice on schedule every month. Yes, that sounds really gross, but somehow women learn to live with that and make all our live’s wonderful. So please see my black sisters and mothers like the amazing women they are with all their quirks.
  5. One more advice my white brothers and sisters, lies are universal so if you feel I have broken the law and you need to arrest me, please take care because all humans black or white are very fragile. If I tell you that your forceful restraining methods is too forceful for me please listen and make adjustments, because at the end of the day even if I have committed a crime, I still want to have my day in court.

So white brothers and sisters, just remember that I love my home very much because when I am there I am king. If you happen to enter my home please take a close look at the house or room number. When you enter should you manage to enter even though there should be no reason you should have a key that opens my door. Also just look carefully at the paint and the furniture because I know I have better taste than you do. If you see me in my house and for some very crazy reason that I cannot wrap my mind around you think I am in your house, do not think I am an intruder. For God’s sake I may be your old high school or college buddy who is only in for a visit.

If that does not enter your mind then there is only one thing I can say; you have no black friends and most probably are a racist white person.

Dr. Leonard Sowah is an internal medicine physician in Baltimore, Maryland 

A physician providing primary medical care to patients across the lifespan