300+ UCSF Doctors, Nurses & Students Come Out in Support of Kaepernick
Open letter by Rupa Marya, MD of the Do No Harm Coalition
Dear Colin Kaepernick,
I am writing to you to express deep respect, as a person born and raised in the Bay Area and a physician on faculty at UCSF who has been caring for the people of SF since 2002. I am also writing on behalf of the Do No Harm Coalition, a group of over 300 doctors, nurses, students and staff at UCSF who are organizing to address racism and police violence as the critical public health emergencies they are.
In medicine, we know that sometimes to help ease something that is suffering, a degree of discomfort is required to shift the status quo. When there is an abscess that must be drained or a cancer that must be removed, a sore throat that must be swabbed or a lesion that must be excised, there is often discomfort that must be endured in order to achieve the desired outcome—healing, wellness, a restoration of the body’s balance.
You have created great discomfort by your action, which I believe history will ultimately see as an action to alleviate the suffering you are witnessing in the social body. We do not need any more reports, inquiries or investigations to recognize there is a horrific epidemic of police violence towards people of color throughout the USA. Your silent protest, by refusing to stand up and respect a flag that does not symbolize respect for you and other people of color, was a brave and remarkable action. Your action will empower other young people to find their own voices. Your action is one of many drops of rain that foreshadow an upcoming deluge that will forever change the historic face of the deeply racist structures in our society.
The pressure to toe the line and not say or do anything that creates the slight discomfort that occurs when we to draw into sharp focus deep suffering we see around us is intense. I felt this back in May, when I stuck my own neck out to ensure the people who went on hunger strike in SF to protest police killings—the Frisco5—were safe and cared for during their peaceful manifestation of outrage and grief. We are not trained to speak out against the status quo, especially when it is so deeply entrenched in our society, as racism and state-sanctioned violence against people of color are. These are, in truth, part of the very foundation of this society—through the attempted erasure of indigenous peoples and cultures and through slavery, and until we reckon with these facts open-eyed, we will continue to live in blindness, lashing out against one another instead of at the very structures that degrade us as a society.
Calling out the clearly demonstrable facts around disproportionate police violence towards brown and black lives makes people uncomfortable. But not as uncomfortable as the 59 bullets shot at Alex Nieto while he was holding a burrito in the very neighborhood where he was born and raised, wearing a 49ers jacket. That’s the kind of discomfort we need to stop immediately. And everyone needs to find the courage to get involved. Every single person in every layer of society. And when each person finds their voice and engages with the discomfort, grasping it with their own lived experience, they become a healer of the ailing social body. You are doing your part. And for this, we thank you and express our deepest respect.
We welcome an opportunity to meet with you at UCSF in our coalition. We would like to welcome you into our ranks as a healer with a mission to end police violence and racism.
Rupa Marya, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine—UCSF
Do No Harm Coalition
Margaret Stafford, MD
Josh Connor, MD
J. Nwando Olayiwola, MD, MPH, FAAFP
Lily Barnard, MD candidate
Micha Y. Zheng, MPH and MD candidate
Elaine Hsiang, MD candidate
Asha Choudhury, MPH; MD candidate
Camille Rogine, MD candidate
Emilia De Marchis MD
Olivia Park, MD candidate
Nathan Kim, MD candidate
Daniel Bernard, MD candidate
Chris Ahlbach, MD candidate
Emily Larimer, MD candidate
Joseph R. Domingo, MPH, CHES
Sonja Swenson, MD candidate
Marion Pellegrini, RN and NP candidate
Michael Deng, MD Candidate
Jayme Mejia, FNP-C, MS
Simon Ma, MD Candidate
Nicole Person-Rennell MD, MPhilPH
Daniela Kantorova, PsyD, The Wright Institute
Sagar Desai, MD Candidate
Madhavi Dandu, MD
Seth Holmes, MD, PhD
Sharad Jain, MD
Sriram Shamasunder, MD
Kenji Taylor, MD MSc
Elise Cabral, MD Candidate
Deanna Dawson, MD Candidate
Anna Loeb, MD MPH
Fabian Fernandez, MPH and MD/PhD Candidate
Rebecca Nessel, MD
Anne Donjacour, PhD