Central PA Medicine Summer2020 - 11

daup h i n c m s .o rg

ONE CAUSE
FOR HOPE?
By JAAN SIDOROV, MD

I

n February of 1991, I attended a medical conference in Los
Angeles, California. During an after-dinner evening walk
in Hollywood, an LA police car swung in from oncoming
street traffic, switched on the flashers, hopped the sidewalk
and came to a stop in front of me. Two law officers hopped out,
commanded that I place my hands on the hood and patted me
down. It was only then that I learned that they had witnessed
me crossing an intersection against a red light. I was respectful,
they were unpleasant. I was eventually issued a ticket and sent
on my way.

One month later I saw the news that an unarmed Rodney King
was brutally beaten by LAPD officers. When the initial prosecution
of the involved police was unsuccessful, the infamous 1992 Los
Angeles riots occurred, resulting in dozens of deaths and over $1
billion in property damage.
As a white man who grew up in a diverse Queens, NY neighborhood and a first generation child of immigrants who
suffered under both Nazi (mom) and Stalinist (dad)
regimes, I was not surprised at the injustice endured
by Mr. King. If a person of privilege like me
could suffer the indignity of overzealous cops
in Hollywood, how much worse
could it be for a black man
in San Fernando?

Looking back now, the only surprise is how simultaneously
unsurprising and significant the assault was. The lead-up to Mr.
King and the events that followed were the result of a pernicious
legacy of racism that persists today. In a small yet significant way,
attending New York City public schools in the '60s and '70s
made me already aware of how little and how much skin color
mattered in America.
It crystallized when I first saw the sickening beating video of Mr.
King in 1991. It changed me, and that made me a better doctor.
Fast forward to another sickening video of 8 minutes and 46
seconds duration, and my insights have grown. The bad news
is that we don't really know if this time, compared to 1991, is
different. Time will tell if this is really the tipping point that will
lead to meaningful societal progress against racism. Will we finally
honor the sanctity of our fellow human beings and make real the
promise of a better liberty? I pray that it is so.
Kudos to my physician colleagues and future
physicians who have taken a stand and are visibly, noisily and very inconveniently disrupting
healthcare-as-usual to elevate racism to alarm
status. They're on the right track, though a
lot of work remains. Speaking from personal
experience, I can say with certainty that we'll
all be better doctors for it. That's the good
news and cause for hope.

Central PA Medicine Summer 2020 11



Central PA Medicine Summer2020

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https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CPMSummer2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CPMSpring2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CPMWinter2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CPMFall19
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CPMSummer19
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CPMSpring19
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CPMWinter19
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CPMFall18
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/Summer2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CPMSpring18
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CPMWinter18
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/Fall2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CentralPAMedicine_Summer17
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CentralPAMedicine_Spring17
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CentralPAMedicine_Feb2017
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com