As I sit in my new office in between patients, I do not feel the joy that I should. As the only black primary care physician in my town, I feel a sense of pride that cannot be explained when patients congratulate me for opening a practice that is impacting the health of so many in our town. However, I feel a sense of fear every day. I feel a sense of fear of being pulled over by the police while on my way to the hospital to perform delivery. I feel a sense of fear when I am driving through Canyon Lake late at night after going over our friend's houses. Although calm and peaceful, sometimes living in a small town as an African-American does not always feel safe. At this point, with all of the police shootings and killings that are happening, I find myself wondering how will I be able to keep my baby boy safe. Franklin is two but like any toddler, he has his moments but he has a huge smile and be his heart. He has changed me as a person and I am truly thankful for the opportunity to be his mom. I am not worried about him at this time because he is a innocent little baby but I worry about him once he goes to school. He is very tall for his age and people often ask if he is three or four simply due to that. I worry that he will be perceived as a threat amongst his peers. I worry that if he gets upset about something that he will be more likely to interact with the police than his friends. The thought of him being placed in handcuffs like the 5 year old in florida or slammed onto a police car frightens me. I often find myself wondering should I be explaining de-escalation techniques to him as he gets older and if I should be discussing different ways to dress and act that appear nonthreatening. But then I start to wonder, why should we have to continue reshaping how we interact with police and citizens with weapons and the intent to kill when police officers undergo 2 years of training for their field? How do they not know how to de-escalate situations without killing people? Why is the gun the first option to subdue someone? Why is there no responsibility with how they deal with us? As a Physician, if I were to prescribe the wrong medication for a patient and there was a bad outcome, I would be held responsible by the medical board. Who do they answer to? It's also a shame that the person killed or assaulted is found at fault while the person who assaulted them was justified?
I feel really stumped at the moment. I am not sure whether to keep him close to me at all times or whether to let him play with his friends like a normal child would. I wonder if it will matter that we are in a suburban area or not. Obviously, it didn't matter for Ahmad he was jogging through his neighborhood. He got killed by 3 white men in the middle of the day and it took almost 3 months to arrest them. I do not know if it is a good idea to show introduce guns to him when he is old enough when Tamar Rice was shot and killed by the police for playing with a toy gun at Walmart. I do not know if I feel comfortable with him walking to the corner store to go get skittles and iced tea since Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman for doing the same thing. The moment that I was told that I was having a son, my heart ached because these were the immediate thoughts that came to mind.
I believe that without accountability, this will continue to happen and it needs to change. How do you change a system that was designed for this to continue to happen unchecked?
I will be having a special podcast episode on 6/6/2020 at 10 am to discuss this more.
Dr. Jessica Edwards
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