I live just 20 minutes away from where it happened. Living in the area surrounding Washington, DC, I have seen various protests that grace our nation’s capital occurring daily. These vibrant and often encouraging voices of change have been the reasons for many street closures and traffic jams. Here in DC, though it can sometimes be aggravating, we have become used to the city’s rhythm and know how important it is to have peaceful protests to ignite change. Yet on January 6, 2021, the unimaginable happened. Our US Capitol was overtaken. 

Let me just put this out there…I never like to discuss politics in a public forum as I know many of us may be in different political camps. We also may have had different experiences that shape our perceptions. As much as I appreciate our differences and even perceptions, it pains me to think that some differences can cause so much sorrow. 

When watching the protestors transform into rioters as they invaded the US Capitol building, I couldn’t help but to think…” How is this happening?” Then just as quickly as this thought came, another promptly replaced it: “If these were black people, they would be dead.” 

For me, unfortunately, this is not a new thought: I am a black woman married to a black man in the United States. I am from a people who have historically been marginalized, criminalized, and murdered based on our skin color. We are reminded on various occasions that we are “different,” whether in the workplace or the mall. It becomes exhausting to even think about all that comes with being an African American woman in a world that is not always accepting of her race. 

Many on social media and news outlets have reflected on the rioters’ case at the US Capitol, specifically regarding their race. They have pointed out this double standard between how protesters in the Black Lives Matter movement (many of whom were black) were treated versus mostly whites in this instance who were “protesting.” I’m sure you have read or heard much of this by now. 

For me, I have to admit that many times it’s easier to be numb to instances like the one that happened on January 6th because it yet again points out the ugly side of our country. It has happened so many times in the past that numbness sometimes is the more comfortable option to avoid all the hurt. But I can’t stand by to say that this is OK. I no longer can be numb to it. 

Whether you agree or disagree with my statement today, I ask you to do just one thing for me. We all need to acknowledge that race does play a part in how people are viewed and treated in this country. It is important for us to recognize that biases within our world and in our country can cause generational pain and trauma. It is also clear that these same biases can cause so much hurt in a community and create mental toil. 

I ask you today to remember to be the positive change that YOU want to see. I ask that you be the change that we so desperately need. It’s a must. It’s our duty. 

Dr. Amber Robins is a board-certified family medicine doctor practicing in Washington, DC, and graduate of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. She is a recent Health and Media fellow graduate from Georgetown University and PBS News Hour. She is the author and founder of “The Chronicles of Women in White Coats” and “The Write Prescription: Finding the ‘Right’ Spiritual Dosage to Overcome Any Obstacle” with her own website and blog at www.AmberRobinsMD.com