Watching the video, A Conversation About Growing Up Black, brought tears to my eyes. This one of the difficult truths that comes with growing up for African-American males in the US.
I left a General Surgery Residency, had my son, stayed home for a year and started a Family Medicine Residency in a 24-month span of time. My favorite rotations were the Obstetrics Clinic and the Newborn Nursery. I really enjoyed seeing the expectant mothers in the clinic and later seeing all the babies in the nursery. I talked to each to each baby and welcomed it to the world. How precious each one was and then I gave them each a big hug. I could not resist it. Seeing each baby again when I visited, its mother was even more precious.
At that moment, I felt that each one of them was a part of me. My son was still under 24 months, so, the baby boys that held a special place in my heart. I felt that each one was my baby boy and I had the responsibility of making sure they were healthy. I was always afraid of missing a heart defect, lung problem or a disease of the eyes. When I did my Pediatric rotation at the Children’s Hospital, I realized that for many children, especially African-American males, life is hard. For four years, I returned to that same clinic as the attending teaching residents and I still had the same emotions. I had an even greater responsibility.
African-American males have a difficult first few years of life due to illness and injury. Then they are faced with the added risks of poor pre-school, middle school and high school education that leaves them behind in reading and math. They have fewer chances of going to college especially if they live in certain urban areas-Baltimore, Atlanta, Chicago and other areas of the country. A college education is their way out but now they need a masters or a doctorate degree to be competitive. Even this does not guarantee the best job. The day-to day of just surviving is stressful.
A recent NYT analysis in Upshot and Op-Ed sadly revealed high incarceration rates, premature death and racism has 1.5 million African-American males missing from society. On Mother’s Day, let’s take time to remember that they really are our baby boys and we need to protect them. The President’s initiative, My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, is a start and we all have to sign on.
Happy Mother’s Day!!!