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Saturday, September 18, 2021

UC Davis medical students hold ‘White Coats for Black Lives’ demonstration

JENNIFER NGUYEN / COURTESY
JENNIFER NGUYEN / COURTESY

Demonstration held to highlight racism, injustice found in health systems.

On Dec. 10, UC Davis medical students held a peaceful protest at the UC Davis School of Medicine in solidarity with the national medical student organization, White Coats for Black Lives. The demonstration was strategically chosen to coincide with International Human Rights Day and the one­-year anniversary of the National White Coat Die­-Ins, which UC Davis medical students also participated in last year.

While last year’s die-ins focused on the #BlackLivesMatter movement and sought to bring attention to police brutality, this year’s demonstration concentrated on injustices in the health system.

The hashtag this year was #ActionsSpeakLouder in reference to the actions the demonstrators believe that health institutes need to start making in order to end health disparity and promote culturally sensitive care. The demonstration discussed the biases found not just with patients of color, but those in the LGBT community and various religions.

Keyon Mitchell, a second-year graduate student in the medical department, helped organize this year’s demonstration and found that it had a real impact on both students and faculty.

“The event challenged our medical system and hospitals to address racial injustices and acknowledge the biases that go into taking care of patients of color,” Mitchell said. “Because many of the aims were focused towards institutions, I think a lot of debate was sparked on our campus. A lot of the deans and administration came out in support.”

Many medical student participants were inclined to join the demonstration in order to advocate for public health issues; especially because of a desire to improve the field as future professionals.

Lucy Ogbu-Nwobodo, a graduate student in the medical department, helped organize both last year’s die-in and this year’s demonstration. She explained how discrimination in the health system has a big impact on patients.

“We as physicians have to take care of our patient’s health, but someone’s health encompasses more than just the clinical presentation that you see in a hospital,” Ogbu-Nwobodo said. “Racism and discrimination is a public health issue because if you are feeling unsafe or targeted in your environment, your mental and physical well-being is in jeopardy.”

UC Davis had no comment in regard to the demonstration. However, the university is in support of students expressing their beliefs and exercising their right to assemble. Andy Fell, the associate director of news and media relations, commented on the school’s views on public demonstrations.

“People have a right to protest and express their views in a peaceful way,” Fell said.

Written by: Jackie Carmaz – campus@theaggie.org

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