Let’s call it what it is

What a few months we have had!!! For me, it has been busy and a little stressful at times.  Fortunately, I  had the opportunity to hear Dr. Camara Jones who is the president American Public Health Association.  If you have never heard her, please view this TEDxEmory Talk Allegories on Racism. Dr. Jones addresses the three levels of racism: institutionalized, personally mediated, and internalized.  I had to reflect on my personal experience and how I could stop and confront racism.  Dr. Jones talks about being on a conveyor belt and just moving forward without ever addressing these issues. She urges us to turn around and look.  Then we must stop and confront racism. Throughout my professional career, racism has been evident and has decreased access to health care for my patients and opportunities for my own professional advancement.

Academic Medicine has less than 2 % representation by Underrepresented Minorities(URM).  The overall number of URM students in medical school is less than 10%.  URM is defined as  Blacks, Mexican-Americans, Native Americans (that is, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians), and mainland Puerto Ricans.  Bernie Sanders was calling for “Health Care for All” but he failed to discuss the obvious. Unless we address the root cause of health disparities we will exacerbate the problem.  We need to increase the physician workforce and increase the number of URM’s in all areas.  Medical education is expensive  and we need to find ways to reduce cost. We need to develop pipeline programs that support URM students starting in elementary school.  This is one of the main reasons I supported a group of talented people who wrote a grant proposal that was funded by the Foundation of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine to develop the curriculum and expand The Ladder.  It is based on: ” Cascading mentorship provides a framework where not only do knowledge and experience flow from the most senior to the most junior Ladder members, but younger members are individually empowered to share their own voices and experience with their peers and those scholars who in turn look up to them.” Those of us who have succeeded know that it was with the help of our families, teachers, churches and community programs.  Mentoring programs are vital to develop a diverse workforce.

In this election year, you see the effects of racism.  President Obama has been exemplary as a president despite the obvious disrespect shown to him.  We must stand together and confront all the barriers placed in front of us.  Voting is a right that must be protected and exercised. We must be willing to turn around on that conveyor belt and confront racism. The Affordable Care Act, Women’s Reproductive Rights and the Supreme Court hang in the balance.  President Obama is taking the opportunity to make us aware of these threats.  He is challenging us all to stand up and confront it. We are a diverse nation with a global responsibility to ensure  health, equal rights  and safety for all.  We are faced with new emerging diseases, threats to our safety from terrorist and poverty.

So, the election of the wrong candidate to the to the US presidency has world-wide implications. So I stand with Hillary Clinton because she is the most qualified.  There is no other choice.  I have not missed an election since my first one at age 18. I felt my vote alone was the reason Jimmy Carter won. So as the President said “we” have the power to make a difference and change our country.



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