READ: How a Black Father Navigates the Health Care System

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Nov 14, 2019

In an essay titled “Navigating a World That Sees My Black Son’s Suffering as Incidental,” Jerald Walker, author of “The World in Flames: A Black Boyhood in a White Supremacist Doomsday Cult” and professor of creative writing at Emerson College, navigates racism as he seeks a diagnosis for his 12-year-old son who had recently suffered a seizure. From the three-hour wait to the doctor who suggests that the child has syphilis, it’s a troubling journey.

“A good father, if you think about it, would not have bought a house in a small White town so that when medical emergencies arise paramedics take you to the nearby small White hospital instead of to Boston, 30 miles away, where the world’s best hospitals receive Black people all the time,” he writes in the piece, which was published on Wednesday (November 13), on Literary Hub.

In the excerpt below, he breaks down how stress and fighting for your child’s life can have unintended, dangerous consequences: 


It is Saturday, shortly after 9:00 pm. Very few cars are on the highway. Conclude, in other words, that there’s nothing to prevent you from showing your resolve to get answers by driving 90 miles an hour, except for your wife, who thinks she can do so by calling you a lunatic. She can’t. She doesn’t even know what a genuine lunatic looks like. Let a cop stop you; then she’ll know. Just let one stop you. Let a White cop stop you, damn it. A White cop, with some weird-ass sunburn in December, probably, and his mouth full of tobacco. Between the tobacco and a Southern drawl you will barely understand him ordering you to step out of the car, boy, and keep your hands where he can see them. He’ll see your hands, all right. He’ll see them as they’re going upside his goddamn head.

Click here to read the complete essay.