Academic medical leaders and learners reflect on police brutality, racism, and the path forward
The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery in recent weeks have exposed deep wounds inflicted by the nation’s long legacy of racism. They have also triggered protests across the country against police brutality and long-standing policies and attitudes that have marginalized Black and other communities of color. The AAMC invited 13 leaders and learners in academic medicine to share their thoughts on the events of the past week, the complicity of medicine in perpetuating inequities, and the role of students, physicians, and academic medical institutions in helping to heal the nation. Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson, also is a member of the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities and former chair of the AAMC Board of Directors. “Here's an astonishing statistic. A Black man today has a 1 in 1,000 chance of being killed by law enforcement. That’s 10,000 out of 10 million. The reason I use 10 million is that's the population of Michigan. Michigan had a little over 5,000 deaths from COVID-19, and it has been one of the hardest hit states during the pandemic. But that's still only half the number of Black boys who will die if nothing is done to address this issue of police brutality against Black men. To be honest, as a young man, I probably had a bit of a chip on my shoulder, and any Black man my age has had numerous encounters with law enforcement. So, the fact that I'm here now, I feel like I'm a survivor, because these encounters definitely could have gone in a different direction. [At Wayne State], we just created a National De-escalation Training Center for law enforcement. When the Dallas Police Department, for example, did de-escalation training, they had an 18% decrease in excessive use of force in one year and an 80% decrease over seven years, so that’s hugely positive. I've been looking at these pictures of these protests, and in some cities, there are more White people protesting than Black. This hit a nerve with all kinds of people. They are out there saying they don't want this kind of “justice” anymore, they really want to see a change in this country. That gives me a lot of hope.
June 8, 2020