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Op-Ed: Beyond Physical Wounds, Healing Black Male Trauma

August 30, 2020

John A. Rich, MD, professor and co-director of Healing Hurt People and the Center for Nonviolence & Social Justice at Drexel University's Dornsife School of Public Health, was named one of USA Today's "Leaders of Change," an up-and-coming leader in today's fight for civil rights in the field of health care.

Dr. Rich submitted a column for the feature:

"As a primary care doctor in Boston in the late 1990s and early 2000s, I saw many young Black men who were injured by violence. But one young man stands out in my mind.

The first time I saw him, he was lying in a hospital bed sweating and writhing in pain. Like many young men I saw as a doctor in an urban medical center, and despite what I – and many of my colleagues – might have assumed, this young man had done nothing to provoke the attack. Rather, he was shot simply for his refusal to relinquish the gold chain that hung around his neck. My surgical colleagues had repaired his physical wound in the operating room and were struggling to control the painful aftermath of the injury and the medical treatment.

But it wasn't long after his pain calmed down that this young man told me the story of the police officer who stood over him as he lay on the ground bleeding. The officer chided him with the words, "Don't do nothing stupid like die." This left him angry and disgusted. And I sensed that this brutal disregard for his humanity, as he was lying on the ground fearing he would die, left him with an even deeper wound that he couldn't name.

That unnamed wound is what I have come to understand as racial trauma."

Read Dr. Rich's full "Leaders of Change" column on USA Today's website: Beyond Physical Wounds, Healing Black Male Trauma

Read more about USA Today's "Leaders of Change": A Mayor, a Filmmaker, a Navajo Nation President: Our Take on Leaders of Change