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August 21, 2020

Stroking Out While Black—The Complex Role of Racism

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Neurology, Columbia University Irving Medical Center, New York, New York
  • 2Department of Neurology, New York–Presbyterian Hospital, New York
  • 3Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco
JAMA Neurol. 2020;77(11):1343-1344. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2020.3510

The killing of George Floyd, an unarmed 46-year-old Black man by a White police officer in Minneapolis, led to widespread protests against police brutality. Beginning with a focus on law enforcement reforms, the protests grew in diversity and objective, evolving into a broader call to end institutionalized racism. For the first time in history, a diverse, global coalition came together to protest injustice in the societal treatment of Black lives. Perhaps it was the collision of George Floyd’s horrific death with the disproportionate and egregiously high death rates and coronavirus disease 2019 infection rates within communities of color in the US that fueled this movement. Of note, precursors of change, such as the diversity, inclusion, and equity initiatives being spawned in all major sectors (economic, education, health), hold out hope for meaningful progress. This Viewpoint highlights the complex role of racism in stroke and suggests a framework for understanding its effects.

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