To the Editor:
No, your email does not find me well in these “trying and uncertain times.” In these trying and uncertain times, I am grappling with the unrelenting pressure and responsibility that comes with being a medical student and feeling the crushing weight of living through a pandemic that has disrupted every avenue of my personal and professional life.
In these trying and uncertain times, I watched my brother, Ahmaud Arbery, chased and gunned down while jogging through his neighborhood.1 In these trying and uncertain times, I heard news of the murder of my sister, Breonna Taylor, as she was shot 6 times in her own bed after police entered the wrong house.2 In these trying and uncertain times, I saw my uncle, George Floyd, cry out, “I CAN’T BREATHE,” as a police officer had a knee to his neck for nearly 9 minutes before his death.3
In these trying and uncertain times, I am reminded of the unjust tragedies of my cousins: Trayvon Martin, Pamela Turner, Rekia Boyd, Antwon Rose, Atatiana Jefferson, Korryn Gaines, Stephon Clark, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Philando Castile, Tony McDade, Alton Sterling, Oscar Grant, and Eric Garner, to name a few. In these trying and uncertain times, I am distraught over how people seem to care more about the destruction of property, than the destruction of Black lives.
For many, these trying and uncertain times started with the pandemic, but I am a Black woman—my people have been under attack for 401 years, so every day is trying and uncertain. Your email does not find me well; it finds me sad, exhausted, frustrated, angry, and in mourning. But I do what I can. I respond professionally to your email. I study. I give my all to my patients. I advocate. And I protest.
To the few Black students in my class: I see you. I love you. I feel your pain. And I stand with you. Your life matters!
To my many other classmates and those reading this letter: I love you, and I know that these are “trying and uncertain times” for you as well. It is not easy, but I urge you to commit to allyship today, tomorrow, and everyday—even when these times seem to pass. We must work to fight racism at all costs, on all fronts, as it affects our patients and our communities each and every day.
The author wishes to acknowledge Dr. Regina Richards, Dr. Shanta Zimmer, Dr. Steven Lowenstein, and classmate Oluwatosin Adebiyi, who helped her edit this letter and who encouraged her to submit it for publication.
1. Fausset R. What we know about the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery. New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/article/ahmaud-arbery-shooting-georgia.html
. Published September 10, 2020. Accessed October 2, 2020.
2. BBC News. Breonna Taylor: What happened on the night of her death? https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-54210448
. Published September 26, 2020. Accessed October 2, 2020.
3. Thorbecke C. Derek Chauvin had his knee on George Floyd’s neck for nearly 9 minutes, complaint says. ABC News. https://abcnews.go.com/US/derek-chauvin-knee-george-floyds-neck-minutes-complaint/story?id=70961042
. Published May 29, 2020. Accessed October 2, 2020.