‘Major Co-Option’: Without Action, Hospitals’ BLM Statements Are Performative

| Strategize!

As the fight against racial inequality in the US has become a national, pervasive movement following the killing of Minneapolis, Minnesota, resident George Floyd, many corporations have argued that they too are helping in the struggle for justice. One anonymous doctor reminds Sputnik that these statements, without acts, are simply performative.

An academic physician based in Washington, DC, who wished to remain anonymous joined Radio Sputnik’s Political Misfits on Friday to provide insight on performative allyship and how their own hospital is contributing to the problematic practice.

“I just witnessed major co-option” they said to hosts Bob Schlehuber and Jamarl Thomas, likening his own experience at his workplace to Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser’s recent move to paint “Black Lives Matter” down 16th Street and rename a street leading to the White House “Black Lives Matter Plz NW.”

The mayor’s recent actions have been blasted by the local chapter of the national Black Lives Matter organization as a “performative distraction from real policy changes” and a way to “appease white liberals while ignoring our demands.”

“The reality is that large hospitals, corporations, are businesses which are made to make money, right?” the physician asked rhetorically.

“This hospital is no different. This hospital also puts profit over people. In fact, there are people working in this hospital who are food-insecure. They themselves have to work two or three jobs. They are below [the] poverty line.”

They said that while these actions would be expected from something like a car manufacturing corporation, this practice is also taking place within US hospitals. Furthermore, safety has gotten more difficult for hospital employees during the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic when it comes to personal protective equipment (PPE).

“There are patients dying while this hospital, and other hospitals, are planning on making more money,” they noted. “We’re reusing [single-use] PPE … There was so much police in our hospital, and nobody really thinks about that.”

“Patients die in hospitals because of police!” they declared.

The academic physician argued that people do not desire a performative response, but rather statements announcing substantive changes to policies or practices.

“I would ask them to have an anti-racism task force. I would have them have a health equity task force,” they said, noting that DC metropolitan area hospitals have neither.

  • Jeff

    As with everyone, watch what they do, ignore what they say. Symbolism can be very important, but in politics substantive actions matter the most.