by Emmanuel L. McNeely, MS, MHA — 3rd-year medical student, Johns Hopkins Orthopedics Research Fellow and founder of Dr. McNeely Dream (M.D.) Project.
“Why are they acting like animals?!”
For some, this question is raised when a news station covers a store with broken windows, graffiti reading “Black Lives Matter” and burned businesses.
For others this, “Why are they acting like animals?!” question is raised when a taxpayer-paid, government employee who once pledged to protect and serve citizens, ultimately decides to prey upon innocent Americans in the Black community.
The animal here is one who used an abuse of power, plus an additional 175 pounds of force, to murder a man with a knee-on-neck method for several minutes. This predatory act was conducted with unopposed support from complicit colleagues, historically one-sided court rulings for similar actions, and a deep-seeded American history of systemic racism towards African Americans.
”Why are they acting like animals?!” is a common question in homes across America right now. Unfortunately, it is difficult for two opposing sides asking the same question, using different definitions for the word “animals”, to work together for a universal answer.
So, what are our options? Do we simply search for a group that will reinforce our personal outrage? Or find a side that will cause the least disruption to our personal lives?
Whatever we choose, we must understand that the true catalyst for change is activation energy that drives reagents to build a true product. If change is our desired product, we must collectively define the terms “activation energy” and “reagents.”
Are you ready to re-enter Chemistry 101 to create both a physical and chemical change? Great! Neither am I…
But let me task you with one lab assignment. You must choose your personal reagent methods for change and define your own activation energy to drive that change. And remember, activation energy is the stimulus for driving a reaction FORWARD.
Let’s start with the activation energy. If we want to end racism, we must join in a spirit of love. Now, I know what you‘re thinking, but I must assure you of one thing — this love that I am talking about is NOT those first date butterflies or even fireworks felt from a first kiss.
This is the unconditional love that holds a couple together for 20+ years, in spite of a long history of indiscretions, or the love of a mother that could never regret her baby despite 15+ arduous hours of labor. Unconditional, patient and relentless love that refuses to allow the presence of pain to preclude future kindness — this is the kind of love that we need to move forward, together.
Finally, every true reaction requires reagents or “actionable steps” to reinforce the forward direction. As you read these 10 steps, take an honest inventory. Take an honest self-assessment without fear of what you may find. Now, let’s make our way through the list.
- Admit we ALL have bias.
- Become INTENTIONAL about identifying your bias.
- DIVERSIFY your circle with different perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds.
- EXAMINE your bias with others outside your circle.
- Identify WHO suffers as a result of your bias.
- ADVOCATE for those who suffer due to your bias.
- SPEAK UP for those who suffer due to your bias.
- Refuse to reach judgement without genuine examination of ALTERNATE views.
- Do not be COMPLICIT by prioritizing comfort.
- Get FED UP with “business as usual.”
So, “Why are they acting like animals?!”
For some, this question focuses solely on looters who exchange the opportunity to protest against police brutality and Anti-Black racism, for selfish criminal activity. However, every American must reach a consensus and acknowledge that Blacks have been treated as animals, at the hands of corrupt policemen and systemic racism, for far too long.
Finally, we all are responsible for prioritizing change. This will require us all to collectively join our anger to actionable steps that will drive love, peace and equality for ALL Americans!
Together, we must realize that we cannot allow differences to fog our path forward. We must realize that we all occupy a single home at risk of collapse because a house divided against itself simply cannot stand.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.