For physicians, the words “I can’t breathe” are a primal cry for help. As many physicians have left their comfort zones to care for patients with COVID-19–associated respiratory failure, the role of the medical profession in addressing this life-defining need has rarely been clearer. But as George Floyd’s repeated cry of “I can’t breathe” while he was being murdered by a Minneapolis police officer has resounded through the country, the physician’s role has seemed less clear. Police brutality against black people, and the systemic racism of which it is but one lethal manifestation, is a festering public health crisis. Can the medical profession use the tools in its armamentarium to address this deep-rooted disease? Evans et al. explore this further in an Editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine.