THE MARCH THAT KICKED IT OFF
Text and videos coming soon!
Carla Moreira (Vascular/General Surgery)
Stephen Bozier (Medical Student)
Thank you all for being here today and a special thanks to all of the organizers for your valiant
efforts in creating this space. My name is Stephen Bozier, he/him/his, and I am a rising 2nd year
medical student at the Warren Alpert Medical School and I currently serve as President of our
chapter of the Student National Medical Association, The SNMA is the oldest and largest
independent, student-run organization in the US that addresses the needs and concerns of
students who are underrepresented in medicine. I am honored to be among the students
representing our chapter today.
I am a Black man from New York, but I’ve spent 6 years in Providence, and I’ll be turning 25
next month, the same age as Ahmaud Arbery when he was chased down, cornered, and
murdered by vigilantes, the same age as Riah Milton, a black trans woman who was shot
several times and killed recently. I am now older than Tamir Rice, Travyon Martin, Aiyanna
Jones, Michael Brown, and two years younger than the late activist Erica Garner, daughter of
the late Eric Garner, and two years younger than Rayshard Brooks, a 27 year old man Altanta
police shot and killed in a Wendy’s drive through this weekend.
I am tired.
I finished my first year of medical school just over three weeks ago and it feels like I have been
moving non-stop ever since. As a matter of fact, I spoke to one of my favorite professors from
undergrad just yesterday about this. She told me “It’s always semester mode as a POC”
Well isn’t that the truth? As a black man in medical school, I constantly fight an internal, and
sometimes external battle, with imposter syndrome – the psychological pattern in which one
doubts one's accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a
"fraud". I found that it requires me to speak affirmations over myself – that I am smart,
exceedingly capable, and more than enough. Words have power – and being black in medical
school is a constant battle between microaggressions and self-advocacy.
Imagine still having to learn from an outdated framework of race-based medicine that says that
Black people’s poor health outcomes are due to biological differences between races.
Newsflash – its not. Race-based medicine erases the culpability of systemic racism when it
comes to health disparities. It must be abolished across medical schools and health care
But also imagine being a black man and seeing that you have the lowest life expectancy of your
Imagine being a black woman, too aware of the epidemic of black maternal and infant mortality,
but afraid to speak on the topic because it might anger those in more powerful positions?
The past semester, myself and other Black students had to continue learning about diseases for
which we tend to have the poorest outcomes, amidst a COVID-19 pandemic for which Black
and Brown communities are disproportionately at risk, and amidst a chronic phenomenon in
which we are uniquely at risk for being murdered on candid camera.
At some point enough is enough!
Black kids marching in the street for their lives deserve better than this.
The families of all whom we have lost deserved better than this.
#GeorgeFloyd deserved better than this. His daughter deserved better than this.
#BreonnaTaylor deserved better than this. Arrest the cops that murdered Breonna Taylor.
Dr. Uche Blackstock, an emergency medicine physician based in NY, wrote an article that was
published in stat news in January of this year, titled “Why Black doctors like me are leaving
faculty positions in academic medical centers”. I encourage every healthcare worker, educator,
student, administrator, and board member to read it. In it, Dr. Blackstock writes:
“I find it ironic that Black faculty members are unfairly tasked with the complex and
overwhelming chore of remedying the structural outcomes of centuries of institutionalized
racism that we did not create in the first place.” - Dr. Uche Blackstock
Very aptly stated, and we knew this to be true.
We knew it to be true the first time a teacher asked us in class to give the “black perspective” on
As a black medical student, I knew it to be true when three weeks went by in which national
news cycles were inundated with highlights and replays of black trauma porn and still, it took a
black woman speaking out before conversations on anti-black violence and white silence took
place in our class GroupMe.
We all knew this to be true when in 2015 and today, we gathered en masse and took to the
streets to proclaim to the world that our Black Lives Matter.
So yes, this wasn’t our issue to begin with, but the past and the future merge to meet us here...
in this state of emergency. Our existence is political, our convergence is historic.
And so I’m here today to plainly state, to the Governor, state representatives and senators
entering and exiting this statehouse, to the banks and businesses downtown and all around,
and to the educational and healthcare institutions that displaced the Narragansett and
Wampanoag peoples before being built on the backs of African slaves...
THIS is YOUR PROBLEM TOO.
We need more than thoughts and prayers. We need more than just your words.
We need more than to have our beautiful faces smile for your institution’s diversity brochure
when the answer to the question of whether or not you’ll stand on the line with us, in favor of our
political existence over your political convenience, is obscure.
We need a real commitment. We demand your action! We demand it as a debt that is owed.
“I believe the Providence Public School District is waiting for payment of a debt that is owed.”
What action? What action they say
Last week, myself and a score of other affinity group student leaders at the Warren Alpert
Medical School presented the Deans and senior leadership of the medical school with a joint
statement and a list of demands. I will share them with you all.
• Number 1: Fund anti-racism training - the revolution will not be diversity & inclusion
trainings but some of us have more catching up to do than others. And no, it is not the
responsibility of your black colleagues, employees, students, or patients to teach you
about America’s endemic racism. Hire outside BIPOC professionals to give you some
tools so that you can finish the heavy lifting on your own.
• Number 2: Publish Disaggregated Demographic Data - we need to know the
percentages of Black and Brown people that make up your institutions
• Number 3: Increase admission of Black and URiM students through the standard
admissions route - recent estimates indicate that Black people represent 13% of the
US population but only 6% of the total doctors. That’s less than half of where we need to
be... and we won’t get there if Black students represent 13% of the student body at PWI
- we need numbers closer to 18, 19, and 20% - it’s 2020 after all!
• Number 4: Diversify Faculty and Administration - point us in the direction of those
who make hiring decisions. We’re more than happy to talk
• Number 5: Investigate Disparities in Remediation
• Number 6: Overhaul anti-Racist education - unlearning racism and white supremacist
hegemony takes work. The forever kind of work. Work that is of the highest priority. Say
it with your chest “ the highest priority”
• Number 7: Organize URiM Focus Groups
• Number 8: Divest from Safariland - the producer of teargas – a chemical agent that
has deleterious effects on the respiratory system and can further propagate the COVID-
19 pandemic – that has been dangerously deployed on protesters by police here in the
United States, Palestine, Puerto Rico, and other areas of the world. We join with the
Brown department of sociology and others that have called for this divestment.
• Number 9: Protect Student Advocacy – Do not shame your students, your employees,
nor your colleagues for being brave enough to say “Not over my body – my Black Life
• And Number 10: Publicly recognize this list of demands and your plan to address
them and encourage other institutions to do the same.
There’s work to be done!
In closing, I just want to say that I am so proud of the Providence youth that put this together.
Black kids, we’re awesome. When the world tries to discredit our talents, we grow up to become
doctors, engineers, athletes, artists, entertainers, and community leaders. When we aren’t seen
as children of our Creator and respected less than dogs, we showcase ethereal grace, beauty,
resilience, and intelligence. When rabid folks in red hats take to the streets and call for America
to continue closing her eyes to justice but to simultaneously open up her bars and nail salons,
you stretch yourselves wide to proclaim that you’re willing to fight for yourselves and others you
don’t even know. You are more than enough – you are the best of us. I pray that America finally
wakes up and recognizes this. Surely, we will make sure they do.
God Bless you all and be safe!