A Tennessee surgeon has endured death threats — and faced backlash from angry patients — after showing support for NFL protesters on social media.
Dr. Eugene Gu posted a photo of himself kneeling in late September on his personal Twitter account, and the widely shared image prompted hundreds of threatening emails and social media messages, reported WSMV-TV.
The racially charged messages identified his workplace, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and threatened to beat him up or, in one case, shoot Gu “into the carpet.”
Gu said he was inspired to show public support for professional athletes protesting racism and police brutality following a frightening encounter early last year.
The surgeon said two men approached him in a university parking lot and began shouting anti-Asian slurs, and Gu said they physically assaulted him during the January 2016 incident.
“My own place of work, my own hospital,” Gu said. “I wasn’t at Vanderbilt hospital to have fun or party, I’m here to do my work, take care of patients. I’m racially attacked. After that experience, it opened my eyes to the type of discrimination that minorities can experience.”
He said a patient’s mother confronted him about the social media post recently as he made his medical rounds.
“She kicked me out of the room, because she had seen that photo circulate around,” Gu said.
He said the reaction to his anti-racism post had reinforced his views on race, bigotry — and moral courage.
“It makes me feel like, how can I ever be a doctor if people view me as this other?” Gu said. “They don’t even want to be associated with me, and they even feel the need to attack me.”
“It does put me at increased risk, but if everyone stays silent, then everyone is at increased risk,” he added.
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) September 24, 2017