27 Jun

There are a plethora of issues that present themselves as Americans once again find themselves performing serious soul searching, trying to understand how we in the “Land of opportunity” have stood by for so long as racial inequality has festered just below the surface of our society - within our view - but seemingly - outside of our reach-easily acknowledged, but not so easily resolved.

There are many horrific sequelae of racial disparity that spill over into areas such as:

  • Education
  • Employment
  • Access to health care
  • Income disparity
  • Housing

The sum total of which amounts to a major roadblock to The Pursuit of Happiness

One event that happened recently struck me as a symbol of Racism lurking just below the surface - obvious - if you care to turn over a couple of rocks.

Two people in close proximity in Central Park had a dispute.

Strangely they both shared the same last name, but that’s where the similarities ended.

They were there for different reasons, their gender and race were different, and their approach to each other was very different.

There is a leash law in that area, you must have your dog on a leash. As a disclosure, I have had a dog mauled by an unleashed dog, I have 2 family members that have had serious injuries trying to break up dog fights, and as a physician I’ve treated such injuries.

When the male Cooper asked the female Cooper to leash her dog, she responded by stating that she was calling the authorities to report that < an African American man was threatening her. Since the episode was being recorded, it’s obvious that the allegation is entirely fabricated. It’s also obvious that she didn’t have a leash, which made it very difficult for her to control her dog.

What struck me so intensely was the adjective - African American - that was used.

Wouldn’t a call from a woman stating she was being threatened by a man, be enough to alert authorities and elicit a speedy response? Why use African American as a description?

That’s where it (sadly) gets complex, or elementary depending on your viewpoint.

Certainly there are other 2 word descriptive terms that could have been used:

  • Drug addled
  • Rage filled
  • Hostile and aggressive

All of the latter might heighten the sense of potential danger and hence, the responders might respond assuming that the man was a threat.

The party that broke the law would then be the victim, the party that simply sought to enforce the law, and keep others safe would be viewed as a danger.

But why African American? It’s a physical description.

Would any of these descriptions:

  • Short Man
  • Bald man
  • Tall man
  • Heavyset man
  • Bearded man
  • Man with blond hair

Be used to get that (desired) heightened response?

The answer is obvious.

African American was being used as a hammer to drive home the desired message

There is a DANGEROUS man that is threatening me. By virtue of his race (the amount of pigment in his skin) he is very likely to cause physical harm, and to have criminal intentions.

Based on the color of his skin.

Ms Cooper has some very disturbing elements to her behavior, but she is savvy

She understands that by pointing out that her foil is a person of color, she is utilizing a powerful Dog Whistle in 21st Century America. To add insult to injury, using the term African American, which, in my mind is an honorific term, is a cruel juxtaposition of terminology vs intent.

This leads me to a very disturbing conclusion, one that is an inescapable “Elephant in the room”

For a myriad of reasons race is an enormous factor in 21st century America. The century which saw a man of color be elected our leader. has not addressed the very basics of this plague which affects us so deeply and cruelly as a country,

The United States has a very powerful Ethos, which, in my opinion is responsible for it’s greatness.

Everyone is created equal, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity etc. we should all be entitled to the same benefits of our society.

Our society is invested in helping all of our citizens reach their potential. If we as a nation tacitly accept that this Ethos does not apply to a particular group and just shrug our shoulders, we are in danger of seriously losing our way. We should be especially invested in helping our most vulnerable citizens achieve their dreams.


We must finally dedicate every resource to resolving this horrific situation.

A Manhattan Project based on creating a society that lives up to our ideals - truly dedicating ourselves to delivering

These truths that we find to be self evident

How do we begin?

The Golden Rule

I have a very simplistic idea


Revolutionary? No
Evolutionary? Yes

If each and every one of us makes a solemn vow to ourselves no matter what, to follow the golden rule every day to everyone in our society, addressing racial disparity will no longer be viewed as a onerous chore, but as a righteous, sacred journey.

The stubborn tenacity of this injustice and all the obstacles we encounter will fall before us as surely as the mighty Goliath fell before David the shepherd boy.

And on that day we will truly be as one.



Dr. Richard Fichman
Fichman Eye Center

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