I have a rare blood disorder, rare for women. The reason I am alive today is because of a brilliant Black man
Dr. Charles Drew, the man who transformed the world of blood transfusions and fought for medical care equity for his race, died in a terrible car accident three years before I was born. Here is his story:
Every year during Black History month we are reminded- those who are attending anyway-of the many and remarkable inventions by Black people. The list so long and so remarkable that for the most part, few notice.
That's because it's a massive, detailed list. Here's a partial one to get you started:
It wasn't until this year that I studied that list in detail enough to realize that as someone with a platelet aggregation disorder (my blood refuses to clot properly), that I probably wouldn't be alive today had it not been for Dr. Charles R. Drew.
Few women have hemophilia. It's for this reason that more than one male surgeon accused me of "hysteria" (the classic, gender-based way to shut an angry woman down) when I presented them with blood work which proved my point.
On two separate occasions, those same surgeons rushed to save my life as my blood poured out of the surgical incisions, refusing to clot.
As I had warned them.
I was given plasma on several occasions before we knew how to prevent the problem. They had plasma because of Dr. Drew.
So not just once. Several times, a brilliant Black man saved my life.
If you wear a pacemaker, had laser surgery on your eyes, had open-heart surgery, gave birth to co-joined twins who were successfully separated, any one of a number of astounding medical breakthroughs that we now take for granted, you and/or someone close to you likely owe Black physicians some serious gratitude.
Your life, in fact.
There is much, much more, but here's my point.
In too many discussions about the Black (and to be fair, other people of color) experience in America, we neither acknowledge nor do we teach the groundbreaking, sometimes earth-shattering contributions made to our quality of life by people who are unfairly treated.
Too many are prevented from doing the good they came here to do by virtue of skin color. Their great gifts to us, which we all in some way benefit from, which we enjoy, are forgotten or erased by time and ignorance.
This is a partial list, and not all these people were inventors. However you can see from the rich variety and quality of the varied health contributions how important it is that we recognize the potential of ALL minds when it comes to the greater good:
Many years ago the United Negro College Fund sponsored ads that we saw regularly on early television:
Had Dr. Drew's mind not been invited to explore, develop and grow, I perhaps wouldn't be writing these words.
I'm going to say the quiet part out loud: there are likely one hell of a lot of angry White Supremacists whose lives were saved by the very breakthroughs listed in this article.
In other words, some of those folks out goose-stepping to send Black folks "back where they came from" are only marching because they have a pacemaker or had open-heart surgery. Can see the road ahead because of eye surgery. I could go on.
You see the irony.
Our lives are entwined in ways we simply cannot fully comprehend. So when we end lives too soon (that is too big to speak to here) or prevent bright kids from getting a leg up and keep brilliance in poverty,
we keep ourselves in poverty, and far worse.
Getting rid of racism is for all of us, including racists. I realize that's a hard pill to swallow, but I have to wonder how many of us will be taking future pills medications because of dedicated folks like this?
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