July 7 ambush was the result of America's refusal to reckon with racism

"People find it very difficult to act on what they know. To act is to be committed and to be committed is to be in danger." — James Baldwin

July 7, 2016, painfully reshaped my existence. That night we treated seven gunshot victims at Parkland Hospital. All were police officers; three were wounded fatally. Within minutes, lives were destroyed and families upended — the tragic, indirect result when we refuse to reckon with racism's endemic place in our society.

It happened the day after Philando Castile was shot dead in the driver's seat of his car in Minnesota, and two days after Alton Sterling was shot dead while restrained on the ground in Baton Rouge, La.. Their graphic deaths, captured on video, catalyzed a peaceful rally downtown that was violently disrupted by the shooting.

The aftermath challenged my self-identity and my perceived duty to humanity. Social justice was my impetus for a career in medicine. Now, by fate, that mission includes speaking out about some of the darkest ills of our society.

Brian H. Williams, MD