Racial reckoning is not just a fad.
Last year, as I watched Black Lives Matter protests and rallies take place all over the world—including in some of the least racially diverse towns in Rhode Island and Massachusetts—I often sent up a silent prayer: “Please let this be real.” As hopeful as I was to see the support and commitments from institutions and individuals to do better, I worried that it would become just another #2020 trend, like baking bread, forgotten once we return to “normal” life.
The onus is on us not to let it go. In this issue of the magazine, I invited five alumni to share their experiences as Black physicians in America. I was nervous about this prospect. I am sensitive to the trauma that racism inflicts on people of color and was hesitant to ask people to revisit painful experiences. I also respect the fact that it is not their job to educate the masses about the structures that contribute to the perpetuation of racism. On the other hand, we need to center the voices of our Black alums and give them an opportunity to share their stories if they wish, and with remuneration. That said, it’s important to remember that these are five individual stories that should not be extrapolated as the experiences of all Black physicians.
I need not have worried. All of the alums graciously agreed to share an essay and appreciated the opportunity. The process of meeting with them, of editing and asking follow-up questions, was truly a gift to me. I was humbled by their willingness to share personal experiences, and awed by the ways in which they have coped with the challenges being a Black physician presents.
It took us a long time to get where we are with racial inequity in America; it will take a long time to achieve justice and to even begin to heal. But we can’t let up.