White Coats for Black Lives: Medical Students Responding to Racism and Police Brutality

By Dorothy Charles, Kathryn Himmelstein, Walker Keenan, and Nicolas Barcelo, for the White Coats for Black Lives National Working Group
Journal of Urban Health, Sept. 17, 2015

Last fall, Black people and their allies took to social media and the streets to assert that, despite the non-indictment of officers responsible for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, Black lives matter. While these protests sparked national dialogue about racism and violence against communities of color, our medical school campuses remained silent and detached. As medical trainees invested in the lives and well-being of people of color, we felt called to action by the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Medicine is not immune to the racism that pervades our education, housing, employment, and criminal justice systems. Moreover, racism and police brutality damage the health and lives of people of color, particularly Black people, and must be addressed as a public health crisis.

Initially, students at different medical schools initiated conversations and planned separate actions to engage with larger, national struggles for racial justice.

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