I never knew George Floyd, but I join the thousands upon thousands who mourn his death. And while I wish I could say that he probably did not awaken that fateful day thinking it would be his last day on earth, I really don’t fully believe that to be true because now I have a glimpse of an understanding of what it is like to be black
I am white and I’m a girl. The former has not caused me much trouble, but the latter has made me a victim of discrimination and of violence. Like black skin, I cannot hide the gender I wear, but unlike black skin, my gender challenges are not a part of my every day…my every minute. As I am paying attention to the news and to testimonies, thoughts and stories of black people, I am becoming more aware of the magnitude of racism. The narratives are generously shared to help cultivate an understanding so that we can all work together to make a difference.
Actually, “difference” is an inapt word for the undoing we must make of cataclysmic, long-standing injustices, inequalities and violent acts. It’s time to not just make a change, but rather to turn the world upside down, whirling through space and spinning on its axis until it lands and takes root in a new orbit as something completely dissimilar and unrecognizable compared to the world we have known.
How do we revolutionize our world? George Floyd started that movement with his death. He shook everything up. His sweet little daughter, Gianna, even said her “Daddy changed the world.” How do people like me, people who are white, help to change the world? I believe there are hundreds of ways.
We each have our own talents and tools. It can be as simple as carrying a cardboard sign with the words “Black Lives Matter” during a protest or planting a sign in our front yard. We can be advocates, teachers, messengers and more. And we can take a stand, or a kneel, to show our solidarity.
I am grateful that where I work, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, there is no tolerance for racism. And I was filled with gratitude and pride when I saw the photographs on Friday, June 5 of the #WhiteCoatsForBlackLives event where doctors in their white coats knelt on the campus lawns at Nationwide Children’s and at The Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center to show solidarity.
I was not surprised to learn the critical role that Dr. Ray Bignall II, of Nationwide Children’s Hospital, played in orchestrating the event, partnering with Dr. James MacDonald.
I have had the honor of knowing and working with Dr. Bignall for a few years now. Among the many hats he wears are those of a nephrologist, advocate and educator. I was thrilled to work closely with him on an Underrepresented Minorities (URM) in Medicine initiative and through that work, I came to realize how much I do not know about black lives.
I also came to realize that no matter how embarrassed I might be to ask questions, admitting my naivety, my questions would be welcomed. I still have so much more to learn, and as I am gaining an understanding, I am learning ways to help bring change. Some are small, but I’m hopeful they will add up.
I might not be seeing Dr. Bignall and Dr. MacDonald very often these days due to social distancing and working from home, but I’m still learning from them. I invite you to join me on Twitter to do the same. You can follow Dr. Bignall @DrRayMD and Dr. MacDonald @sportingjim.
Through Dr. Bignall’s posts, I also began to follow the conversations #BlackLivesMatter and #BlackintheIvory to learn more about what life is like for black people. Through knowledge and through united #BlackLivesMatter actions, we can end the senseless cruelty of the past and of today to make the tomorrows better for George Floyd’s little daughter, Gianna, and all black people who dream of, and are fighting for, better days.
Written and submitted by Amy Randall-McSorley for The Circleville Herald. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.