There have been more than enough innocent black people’s lives lost at the hands of the US police force. The numbers are so overwhelming I would not try to give you a quantity lest I be called out for false data. The impact of George Floyd’s death on this country and internationally is just testimony to this fact. For many George Floyd’s case was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
The innocent blood of Tamar Rice, Philando Castile, Freddy Gray, Eric Garner, Rayshard Brooks and many more whose names I cannot put in this post are calling out for justice. These individuals died either for no offense committed or just minor offenses that really did not even call for any violence of even an arrest.
The City of Minneapolis is currently considering what to do about policing in the city following the events surrounding George Floyd’s death. The question that I want to ask is, what is the root of this problem? Is this a problem of policing?
I believe this is more than just a matter of policing or even racism. When many of us see or hear of such acts, we worry about covert Nazis or the KKK driving these acts. Truthfully, though the KKK and movements like the ALT-Right are out there working actively against the rights and wellbeing of minorities. However the common underlying force driving these killings is implicit bias. Unfortunately whilst you need one racist person for a real act of racism implicit bias plays out its effects through the acts of racists, liberals, Christians, conservatives and even minorities. Implicit bias is an equal opportunity employer using whoever fails to question their actions and or beliefs.
As a resident physician in Chicago more than 10 years ago I walked into a patient’s room after a white male nurse. I introduced myself and explained the plan of care to this patient only to be told that her doctor who just left the room before me told her something different. Was that patient racist? I cannot tell, but I can clearly say she had an intrinsic bias against black people.
This previous patient from my residency was white, but what about the black patient who even before he has been seen by me insisted he wanted a white doctor. Is he racist against his own kind?!! an Uncle Tom Negro? or just a well meaning person who drank too much of the prevailing Kool AID. The Kool AID that I refer to here is the narrative that pervades our culture that superior performance and results comes from the majority culture.
It is the same implicit bias that has planted the idea that blacks are criminals into the general psyche. This bias or Kool AID infuses all our institutions including the police force. The truth if there is one is even more complicated.
For us to go beyond this more and more people should be asking why rather than pulling triggers. Unfortunately pulling a triggers is a lot more easier than asking simple questions like why? As a physician I have always been taught to ask why. I am surprised that our police officers are not asking why. Or they may be asking why when it comes to whites but with blacks there is no such need the Kool AID is too strong!!
As I write this post now I am listening to a report by CNN of another man shot because he was sleeping in his car at a drive through. Yes the black man does not have peace. Shot whilst running away, by a lazy cowardly officer who would rather have the bullet run for him. Until we are able to change the nature of the dangerous Kool AID that is being drank the bullet will continue to do the running when it comes to police chasing Blacks in America.
By Leonard Sowah a physician in Baltimore, Maryland