From Cindy Cesar
Anyone who has known me since I was a child knows that all my life, I wanted to be a veterinarian. It was all I ever spoke about, and it was what I dedicated my entire young adult life to accomplish. It was admittedly the most difficult process of my life, and honestly, I’m still recovering.
What people don’t know about is something that happened to me as just a child. It was a defining moment of my life when I realized just how imperative it was that I make a name for myself. My life depended on it.
I was just a little kid when a young white girl, roughly my same age accused me and my sisters of stealing her iPod. Though this was in fact untrue, she still called the police. They arrived with no intention of carrying out due process and conducted an illegal search of our home. My parents (God bless their souls) just didn’t know anything about the American legal system and didn’t know how to stop it. I sat there watching as the policemen pushed past me, no search warrant, and sifted through my personal belongings. I sat there in horror as they flipped my mattress and rifled through my underwear drawer. I was only a kid. They never found the iPod that they promised was there. I remain traumatized.
This isn’t the first time in my childhood that I had felt violated, but it was one of those defining moments in which I knew that my life didn’t matter. The people of my disenfranchised community didn’t matter. We would never matter unless I found a way to add “value” to my life because sadly, being human wasn’t enough. So, I thought: Medicine.
I was knocked down every step of the way from people telling me I would never pass the interview process to saying I only got in because “you’re black and you complete the quota”. That was where my value was placed. I was 1 of the 3 black students in my class of 100. It was hard, but I plowed through it with blood, sweat, and tears because I. Had. To. I was working towards my bullet-proof vest: my stethoscope.
When I wear this stethoscope, I am immediately respected. Stopped on the road by police four times for an expired inspection sticker without even a written warning wearing my bullet-proof vest – it was an experiment you see. Got 3 citations the next time in my regular clothes, and the officer didn't hesitate to add in that I was a moron and probably too stupid to know how to get my sticker updated. Doctor one day. Moron the next. It would be funny if it just wasn't.
Do you see what I mean now? All my life I have been kind. Forced a smile. Expended a ton of energy I didn't have to help others. Avoided drugs and excessive alcohol consumption. Wore my hair in a non-threatening fashion. Guys. I don’t even cuss. All this to show people that I have value. I became a doctor to prove that I have value. I had to work so hard. To prove. That this black body has value. I had to make sure that everyone knew my name so that they would vouch for me and say “Yeah, that Cindy girl? She’s alright. Please take care of her, and keep her safe.” And that’s my reality. Because only white words provide this world with a reason not to kill me. Being a human is not enough. And that’s wrong. But that is my reality.
I became a doctor to save lives. I became a doctor to save my life. But honestly. I shouldn’t have had to go this far to prove that a black body is worth something. I. Am. Tired.
Black Lives Matter. Period. Not only black doctors, vets, nurses, teachers, etc. All of them. All of them. Period.