As a Black woman, reading, “We’re Sick of Racism, Literally,” is like reading “Water is Wet, Literally.” Nevertheless, the effects of racism on the health of the oppressed is a new phenomena to some folks, according to the New York Times.
“Perceptions of discrimination like those the officers experienced, as well as those that are less direct, may make us sick,” wrote Douglas Jacobs, a Harvard medical resident in internal medicine, before listing a litany of medical conditions that negatively impact people of color. Jacobs admits that the effect of stress on cortisol isn’t news, listing studies from 2001, 2008, and 2015.
Still, Jacobs reiterated facts without making any demands. As a White man, he doesn’t even belong to the “we” he invokes as if White folks are negatively impacted by racism.
Whether by chance or relationship, Jacobs shares a name with another doctor who is a nationally-known suicide expert. The latter Jacobs’ perspectives on mental illness are blind to findings linking health outcomes to societal pressure.
Instead, he writes as if mental health deteriorates in the incubator of home life. In fact, the latter Jacobs’ expert testimony helped set the legal precedent for convicting parents for their children’s suicide. Both Dr. Jacobs’ could benefit from dialogue, or lessons about oppression from the oppressed.
Unfortunately, when the internalist hides in a “we” in which he doesn’t belong, White psychiatrists with power over policy are less likely to hear his reiterations. And when the psychiatrist gives colorblind advice on detecting and preventing mental health crises, he pretends that families of color are immune to the societal forces listed by his namesake.
SOURCE: NEW YORK TIMES