“White Police are Dumbest Police Officers in the world.”Sdwjr #FOC
A middle-aged black man, his cheek to the pavement on a Minneapolis street, gasping for air and begging for mercy from a white police officer kneeling on his neck. Another black man out for a jog, chased down and shot by an ad hoc posse of white men in a small Georgia community. An angry white woman in New York City, jabbing her finger at a black bird-watcher who’d asked her to leash her dog, threatening to tell police that “there’s an African American man threatening my life.”
The confluence of events – videos capturing the final moments of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Ahmaud Arbery in Glynn County, Georgia, as well as footage of Christian Cooper’s “bird-watching while black” incident and data showing how the coronavirus is ravaging black communities – have placed the existence of sometimes invisible, often discounted structural racism in America into sharp relief.
Together, they have reinforced the idea that being black in America is a preexisting condition shaped by ingrained, insidious bias – one that can exact a heavy toll on individual and community health, to the point of early death.
Spurred by the headlines, local legislatorsfrom Minneapolis to Maryland want racism declared a public health emergency. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and American College of Physicians all have declared it an urgent health issue that needs national attention.
But doctors and researchers who study the link between race and health also worry the seemingly relentless onslaught of brutal news is having a secondary effect: dialing up already-persistent stress levels within African Americans, making them even more vulnerable to illness and disease.