“My White Coat Feels Heavy”: The Experience of a Black Medical Student in an Era of Police Brutality and Injustice

TMC Fellow, Kirsten Simmons, in an article for Medium, reflects on the experience of a black medical student in an era of police brutality and injustice.

“I woke up this morning ready to start the day. There’s a 74 degree sunny forecast for the beautiful Hope Valley neighborhood of Durham, NC. I predict I might hit the trail when I get done with clinic for the day. But who knows, this may just be ambitious thinking. I get dressed while some grits are cooking on the stove. The best part of this routine? Putting on the white coat. You know, the one that medical students proudly wore for the first time at the rite-of-passage white coat ceremony. It’s a moment no one forgets.

While eating, I pull out my phone to check the news. My heart skips a beat and my eyes swell up with tears. The story and video of George Floyd plays on my phone: A man from Minneapolis, MN was attempting to buy groceries with a counterfeit $20 bill. The police response to this non-violent crime resulted in an officer kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, killing him. George Floyd was 46 years old. He was handcuffed and pleaded for the ability to breathe. He was unarmed. He was Black.” Continue reading.