by Sarah D.

October 25, 2021



Last year, the Breonna Taylor case stood in the national spotlight. And when the officers involved in her death were not charged with murder, it made a lot of people question the integrity of the justice system.

Criticisms over what happened are understandable and fair. What makes less sense is takes like this one from Harvard pre-med student Kyla Golding:

I took an inorganic chemistry exam the same day that a grand jury failed to charge two police officers with the murder of Breonna Taylor. That day, my body inhaled molecules of white supremacy as they seeped out of my computer from that proctored Zoom room. They entered my bloodstream and catalyzed a metabolism that would allow for the invasion of my body by a violently infectious life form. A chronic pain, caused by the perpetuation of lethally unjust practices and compounded by the silence and avoidance between myself and my educators when it comes to Black women’s lives, would make its way through and onto neighboring cells within my physical being. The presence of the germ of white supremacy would cause a steric hindrance within me, slowing down and even preventing the reactions of learning and healing that I desperately needed for myself and from others in that moment. The exam began, and I haven’t been able to show up mentally or emotionally in a science class since.

When white supremacy invades the bodies of those of us who dare to be Black, female, and breathing, it reproduces as a crippling affliction that accompanies us everywhere — physically, psychologically, and spiritually. The weeks I had spent preparing for that exam could never amount to the time and energy I have spent mourning Breonna Taylor. The time I would spend understanding electrons and balancing reactions would never amount to the years I have spent watching those whose skin was saturated with melanin like mine lose their lives. I held study sessions for myself alongside silent prayer recitations for the justice I knew would probably never come. And still, I showed up to my exam — in all my Black womanness — despite the heartache that would be ignored, unseen, and unacknowledged.

I could have asked to take that inorganic chemistry exam another day, but it would have required me to release my breath to plead for the need to catch it. I could have put my racial trauma on display to beg professors, teaching fellows, and preceptors to consider a Black woman’s funeral worthy of an excused absence, but I couldn’t bear the harrowing reality that I was mourning while white America was not. In the months to come, the symptoms of the infection of white supremacy — transmitted across bodies from professor to pupil, peer to peer, educators to learners — in the pre-med academic space sent me into a prolonged battle with recurring pain as I struggled with trying to fight, while also trying to survive.

If you’re rolling your eyes right now, you’re not alone.

What Kyla is really saying here, in her self-aggrandizing ode to social justice, is that she should never be taken seriously.

Definitely unfit for medical school.