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A Statement From ZERO Prostate Cancer

A Statement From Zero Prostate Cancer

Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd.  These familiar names are some of the Black people killed by police in the last decade that have received national attention.  As the country reflects on the most recent death of a Black person at the hands of law enforcement in Memphis, TN, Mr. Tyre Nichols, this situation feels familiar. A Black person was pulled over by police in what should have been a routine traffic stop. However, when you are Black in America, many activities that should be routine are not routine because they are so heavily influenced by our country’s history of racism and discrimination against Black people. In general, research has shown that racial/ethnic minorities are more likely to be murdered by police with “Native Americans 3 times more likely.…..Blacks more than 2.5 times, and Hispanics 29% more likely” than White people to be shot dead by police officers. Navigating and managing experiences like interactions with police officers that shouldn’t include a risk of death, unfortunately for racial/ethnic minority individuals, is a highly risky encounter.        

We at ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer work to advance prostate cancer research, provide support to families impacted by prostate cancer, and create solutions to achieve health equity to meet the most critical needs of our community.  In this moment, we pause to mourn with our friends, colleagues, and partners in Memphis and condemn the actions of the police officers connected to Tyre Nichols’ death. We recognize that the physical, behavioral, and psychological impact of this murder is devastating for Mr. Nichols’ family and the Memphis community, and we send our deepest condolences and stand in solidarity with the Nichols family and Memphis community. Consistent with our work on health equity, we call for justice in the Nichols case. 

Many in the ZERO community have expressed anger, disgust, and hurt from hearing about another Black person murdered by the police. These feelings were amplified once the video was released, and we had the opportunity to see for ourselves the brutal nature of the encounter between Mr. Nichols and members of the Memphis police. Our own VP of Health Equity, Dr. Reggie Tucker-Seeley said, “I couldn’t watch it. Too many of us [Black men] have had negative encounters with the police that watching such videos can be re-traumatizing for many of us.”  While we can’t even imagine how hard it was to watch the video for the family, research has shown that such violence not only impacts the victim and his/her family but also the community where such events take place.  A recent study in 2018 showed that “a police killing of an unarmed African American triggered days of poor mental health for Black people living in that state over the following three months.”  

While our primary efforts at ZERO are focused on ending prostate cancer and eliminating prostate cancer disparities, specifically focusing on the disparity where Black men are 1.5 times more likely to be diagnosed and over 2 times more likely to die from the disease;  we recognize that many in our community, including prostate cancer survivors and their families and the communities where they live, are managing many other issues in addition to prostate cancer.  As we continue to fight for prostate cancer health equity, where everyone has a fair and just opportunity to find, treat, and survive prostate cancer, we call on our community to commit to fighting structural racism and to disrupt the systems that sustain the discrimination experienced by racial minority communities. This means calling out and helping to bring an end to injustices across the systems we routinely navigate (e.g., education, criminal justice, and healthcare) to ensure that one’s race does not determine one’s life chances and that everyone has what they need to thrive, no matter where they live.  Such an effort gets us closer to eliminating the unjust barriers to good health and well-being many of us face where we live, learn, work, and play.  As we end Black History Month, let’s not forget the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”