We at Conestoga Eye decry the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others due to police violence. As people, we so easily see those aspects of their lives that unite us – that remind us of ourselves. We think of how Mr. Floyd was a proud parent and a loving spouse. We think of how Ms. Taylor – shot repeatedly by police officers in her own home – was working as an emergency room technician amidst the coronavirus pandemic. These incidents remind us that racism and police brutality are indeed public health crises, ones that already have taken too many lives.
In watching protests unfold across the United States, we have become alarmed by the tactics police are using. It is upsetting to see police arrest and attack reporters and medical helpers. As ophthalmologists, we are always opposed to the use of rubber bullets, mace, and tear gas – regardless of cause – as we have seen how they can cause irreparable harm to the eyes including blindness and disfigurement. It is especially dangerous to inflict people with chemicals that make it difficult to breathe in the midst of a pandemic that ravages the lungs and heart.
As people and as medical professionals, we recognize the role that racism plays in these stories. We unequivocally state that Black Lives Matter. The racism that people of color face during their lifetime is real and unacceptable. Among other issues, black people and other people of color have worse medical outcomes than their white counterparts – a public health crisis of our own making. It has been conclusively shown that black mothers are much more likely to die after giving birth, and that black people are being infected by and dying from COVID-19 at higher rates.
We at Conestoga Eye call for changes to the healthcare system to improve access for all people and eliminate structural racism that leads to poor health outcomes for people of color. Immediate steps need to be taken to improve funding for Medicaid, and ultimately, we need a universal healthcare system that treats all people regardless of race or wealth with dignity and respect.
We know we are not perfect, and we are committed to educating ourselves on the racism that affects our patients and to speaking out on these issues when we feel our voice needs to be heard. We ask that you do so as well.
David I. Silbert, MD, FAAP
Fatal Force, Washington Post
Racism, Not Genetics, Explains Why Black Americans Are Dying of COVID-19, Scientific American
Black Lives Matter
Updated on 2020-06-15T19:13:48+00:00, by .