Saturday, July 9, 2016

Deep in the Heart of Texas

The stars are big and bright
Deep in the heart of Texas
The prairie sky is wide and high
Deep in the heart of Texas

Lyrics, Deep in the Heart of Texas

The stars are no longer big  and bright
The prairie sky is dark and full of fright
The killing of 5 white Dallas Policemen  has cast a deep cloud over Dallas.  The largest city in Texas.  For 53 years,  its citizens  sought to overcome Dallas’ reputation as a “city of hate” following the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963. 
And until 2 days ago, Dallas had succeeded,   Under the leadership of its black  police chief,  David Brown,  it had become a model city for closing the gap between the police  and its  black residents.   Brown assigned over a hundred policemen to protect its citizens during the Black Lives Matter protest.  But a single hate-filled  gunman with a high powered rifle,  once again soiled its reputation.
The murder of 5 policemen and wounding of 7 more reminds us once again that racial bias is a tough cultural nut to crack.   Racial bias has been around for over 200 years, rearing its ugly head in the Civil War,  reconstruction with racial segregation,   the riots in Watts, and the assassination  of Martin Luther King.
Racism is not a black and white and Christians and Muslins and legal immigrants and illegal Immigrants Democrats and Republovsmd   matter.   It is not strictly a Presidential leadership matter either.   When Barack Obama, the first black President was elected,  there was hope that his heritage would health the racial divide.    Such as not been the case,  it is wider than ever.   This is partly because Obama cannot help himself.   His actions, which may be unconscious,  tend to make him side with black community, to attribute killing of black young men to policy brutality,  to launch investigations and impose rules  and paperwork on the police that hamper their proactive  efforts to  reduce crime,  to blame guns rather than deranged  individuals for senseless murders, and to ignore or never mention  such brutal realities as 3600 murders,  mostly black and black, in Chicago, his hometown, during his nearly 8 years in office,
The problem is not a black and white matter.   It is the shades of gray.    As a doctor, I am reminded of these shades of gray in the health reform movement.  In 2006, David Satcher,  a former Surgeon General wrote a book Multicultural Medicine and Health Differences (McGraw Hill).   He and his co-author pointed out that the national health system accounted for only 15% of health results.    Other more important factors were lifestyle 20% to 30%, and 55%, other things such as poverty,  lack of cohesive families , absent fathers.  income differences,  lack of housing,  hunger,  interpersonal violence, and cultural attitudes towards what makes for a just  and achieving society. 
American is a messy, noisy,  multicultural,  pluralistic   divided society, and political leadership cannot erase all the shades of gray.  But the political altitudes   of our  leaders and their attitudes towards the primary causes of the political divide and the actions they take to lessen the divide. count. Behind every gun there is an individual,  and he is looking for fair-minded,  responsible, and practical solutions, which are never easy to come by.

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