Opinion: Dayton doctor on hearing the words ‘I Can’t Breathe’

On June 6, members of Miami Valley Area Physicians of Indian Origin, other physician organizations and Wright State University knelt in silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds at Patricia Allen Park in Springboro, Ohio in order to offer solidarity and honor the memory of George Floyd and many other victims over the years. About 150 physicians and medical students of various racist participated.
On June 6, members of Miami Valley Area Physicians of Indian Origin, other physician organizations and Wright State University knelt in silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds at Patricia Allen Park in Springboro, Ohio in order to offer solidarity and honor the memory of George Floyd and many other victims over the years. About 150 physicians and medical students of various racist participated.

“We must not forget though that racism in America is much more deep-rooted than just criminal injustice,”  Dr. Jhansi Koduri.
(NOTE: This guest column appeared on the Dayton Daily News’ Ideas and Voices page Sunday, June 14, 2020. Community Impact Editor Amelia Robinson asked a diverse group of people with ties to the Dayton area about the impact of protests. Columns from other participants are linked throughout this piece.)

As a physician trained to save lives, it is hard to hear the words “I Can’t Breathe.”

Jhansi Koduri MD
Jhansi Koduri MD

For months now, my colleagues and I had to treat COVID-19 patients with respiratory issues who spoke those words.

Being professionals with the sole purpose of helping people, it was difficult hearing the same words on our streets from unnecessary use of force and stay quiet.

All around the world physicians have come together in the fight against COVID-19 — let us continue this unity and solidarity in our fight against racism.

Miami Valley Area Physicians of Indian Origin is an organization that believes in peace, compassion and equality. We organized a peaceful protest against racism and injustice, committing ourselves to being part of a long overdue change.

Eight minutes and 46 seconds, that’s how long a Minneapolis police officer knelled on George Floyd’s neck before he died.

On June 6, roughly 150 people — our members, representatives of various races from other physicians organizations and Wright State University medical students — knelt in silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds at Patricia Allen Park in Springboro in order to offer solidarity and honor the memory of Floyd and other unarmed black men killed by police over the years.

We condemn violence in any setting, either by law enforcers or rioters, and encourage everyone to resist racism in a peaceful manner.

We must not forget though that racism in America is much more deep-rooted than just criminal injustice.

The structure of American society lays a heavy burden on African Americans, shown by how COVID-19 has killed African Americans at a rate 2.4 times higher than it kills white Americans.

Just as COVID-19 is a public health crisis, so is racism.

History has developed tolerance toward injustice and inequality toward underrepresented minorities. We need to change that, we need to actively listen, watch, verify and be thoughtful. What would you do if it was your family, community or culture who were the victims? Change happens when each and every one of us makes our presence known and voices our concerns.

‘You may never know what results come of your actions, but if you do nothing, there will be no results.” - Mahatma Gandhi

Dr. Jhansi Koduri, a hematology/ oncology and Wright State University associate professor, is president of Miami Valley Area Physicians of Indian Origin.

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