Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Protecting our children after the wounds of racism divide us even more

Protecting our children after the wounds of racism divide us even more:

Protecting our children after the wounds of racism divide us even more

ind myself in this place again. I am numb. I feel empty. I almost have no words.
In 2012, around the time of the birth of my son, I had a similar feeling. Trayvon Martin was killed. I was pregnant with a black male in a world that was not ready for him.
And here I am again, with a three-and-a-half-year-old now, following the deaths of many, many others. The recent deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and the Dallas and Baton Rouge police officers take me back to this place of despair. The constant barrage of horrifying images and commentary on traditional and social media footage of the tragedies only makes it worse.
Oddly enough, events like this drove me to academia. I reluctantly pursued a career in research. But, because these events are not going away, I, like a magnet, was drawn to research of widely publicized racially charged events on everyone, but especially on people of color. While I am heartbroken at the events themselves, I am glad to be doing research that might lead to better understanding, if not some healing, of the wounds that separate us.
Many black people are experiencing these events as acts of vicarious racism. Vicarious racism traditionally refers to experiencing racial discrimination indirectly through close contacts, such as family members and peers. I strongly believe, however, that this definition is not inclusive enough. Vicarious racism can be experienced by those who are not directly involved with the event, but who identify with the victims of racism generally on the basis of race. Age and gender could also be factors.
As a pediatrician, I am extremely concerned about vicarious racism’s impact on our children and youth. While my research is burgeoning, my concern is that black Protecting our children after the wounds of racism divide us even more:


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