Photo above: Dr. Harajeshwar Kohli with community members at the "Triangle White Coats for Black Lives Matter" Protest
On June 6, 2020 the “Triangle White Coats for Black Lives Matter” protest was held in downtown Durham, with several Duke Emergency Medicine members in attendance. While not a Duke-sponsored event, Harajeshwar Kohli, MD, JD, MIA, assistant professor of surgery in the Division of Emergency Medicine, felt strongly about its message and purpose and organized Duke Emergency Medicine faculty and residents to attend. He also brought his kids in order to educate them on the protest and its history. Dr. Kohli attended the event to show support for its cause and to amplify the voice of healthcare workers in supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.
Dr. Harajeshwar Kohli,
The protest itself was peaceful, with many showing their support through participation. Trainees and faculty from local medical schools gave speeches on this historic moment, emphasizing the need for action to address health-related racial disparities in treatment and outcomes. They also addressed the need for improved awareness of the challenges faced by trainees and colleagues who are underrepresented minorities. Participants observed a moment of silence while lying face down on the ground for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in a tribute to George Floyd, a Black man killed while in police custody. The protest culminated with a march through downtown Durham. The event was covered by the "News and Observer" and other local media outlets.
Dr. Kohli felt compelled to spread the word about the event partly because of the diversity that exists in Duke Emergency Medicine. He explained that many people in the School of Medicine have shared stories of bias. Dr. Kohli hopes that this protest sheds further light on racial disparities in the United States and shows that healthcare workers are unified in combating racism and health inequities.
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