By: Black Doctor The year 2017 marks the 25 anniversary of the Rodney King verdict and riots. Like many of us, I can remember when I heard the verdict come down. It was April 29, 1992, and a jury had just acquitted four police officers caught on video beating motorist Rodney King.
After seeing that video over and over and over again with officers beating a Black man who was already down sent a rage through the Black community and many of us just “knew” that officers would be convicted. But when the verdict came back not guilty, the Black folks erupted.
In Los Angeles, shock over the verdict quickly turned into outrage and violence. More than 60 people died in the riots, The L.A. Times reports, while at least 1,000 properties were damaged. Damages totaled billions of dollars.
For Dr. Myiesha Taylor, the cost was personal. Her father was one of those lost in the violence.
Myiesha was just 18 years old, about to graduate from high school when her father, Dwight Taylor, was walking home from work when he was shot 3 times. No one saw who did it.
Friends put Dwight–bloody and all–into the back of a car and brought him to a hospital. But, Myiesha said, her father didn’t get medical attention in time. He died hours after being shot.
“In trauma you have a golden hour where if you get the person to the hospital and in the O.R. within an hour or so, their chances of survival increase dramatically. Well, my father didn’t have that opportunity,” she said in an interview with NBC News.
But that tragedy brought inspiration. She had always wanted to pursue a career in medicine, but the loss of her father pushed her specifically to the field of emergency medicine. Little did she know that her passion for medicine would inspire the creator of the popular children’s doctor cartoon, Doc McStuffins to be named after her!
“My mother was a registered nurse and my grandmother was a licensed vocational nurse,” explains Taylor. “My family made science, math, and the notion of working in medicine fun! This is how they inspired me – encouraged me! I looked at medicine as something that was attainable because I was always given opportunities in the home to engage in science. My mother would bring medical journals, pamphlets and such home from work. She’d share them with us.”
“When somebody needs help I want to be there to make a difference right then,” continues Dr. Taylor. She makes that difference through her work in the ER, and also through the organization she co-founded: The Artemis Medical Society.
According to their website , the purpose of Artemis Medical Society, Inc. is to nurture women physicians of color and increase their visibility in society to serve as healthcare providers, care-givers, community leaders, mentors, and role-models thereby increasing physician workforce diversity and diminishing healthcare disparities.
They are a group of women physicians of color joining together in common purpose to create and promote…
… an environment in medicine where we can come together to support and learn from each other across all medical specialties. They share a common bond in our uniqueness within the medical community and believe that by coming together they can change the face of medicine.
The group’s rallying figure is Disney Junior’s Doc McStuffins – an inspiration for children nationwide, but since she is a little black girl who is incredibly smart and who is a doctor for her toys, it’s special for young girls of color. Dr. Taylor and Artemis’s work with Disney Junior and Doc McStuffins has been so strong, that when it came time for show creator Chris Nee to give Doc’s Mom, Dr. McStuffins, a first name, she named her Myiesha.
The medical field not only runs in the family from her past, but also in the future.
“My son has expressed that he’s interested in veterinary science and my two daughters are interested in being physicians,” Taylor says proudly. “Like my mother did with me, I earnestly focus on my children’s interests. It’s so important that we pay attention to what are kids are excited about pursuing. Kids want approval from their parents. In essence, this is what Doc McStuffins is all about. Ensuring that our children are encouraged, during their formative years. If I can, or Doc McStuffins can, you can also.”