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To cure racism, treat the disease — not the symptoms

To cure racism, treat the disease — not the symptoms

By: Saud Anwar, Hartford Courant, June, 8, 2020. Available Here. 

Recently, I saw a patient because he had started coughing up small amounts of blood. I discussed the patient with one of the medical students. He felt that that the patient’s diagnosis was hemoptysis; basically, coughing up blood. My response to him: “That it is not the diagnosis but a symptom.”

The diagnosis in the case turned out to be lung cancer. To treat the patient’s symptoms alone while ignoring the greater context of their overall health would leave the patient returning to the emergency room, next time with worse symptoms.

With protests erupting around the country — in the last two weeks, there have been more than 550 in all 50 states — it can be easy to see them as a diagnosis, as one flashpoint that will come and pass. That could not be farther from the truth.

These protests are symptoms of deep-seated systemic racism. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others are symptoms of America’s longstanding history of racial discrimination enacted through policy. It has existed for decades, despite clear signs of eroding our communities and our society, most recently our current civil unrest. The deaths of Emmett Till, Amadou Diallo and George Floyd all come from the same place. Many protesters today are younger than the riots that erupted in Los Angeles in 1992 after the police beating of Rodney King, and yet we the people march.

We must do more. We must do more to reform policing and criminal justice.

How? The recommendations and actions from my colleague Democratic State Senator Gary Winfield in recent years are a great start. Connecticut has become a role model nationwide for the advances he has led, most prominently the police accountability bill he successfully passed last year.

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