I am a “Damn Yankee” – a white woman northerner who has moved to North Carolina (A Yankee, is a northerner who visits the south and leaves.) There has been recent legislation to prevent minorities from voting and to decrease women’s reproductive rights. The infamous HB2- Bathroom Bill, legislates that people use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender on their birth certificate. These issues, along with Confederate flags flown openly in this time of a growing Black Lives Matter movement is challenging me to find my voice and place in this disturbed environment.
As a child I had a social conscience, and felt a guilt for my good and lucky fortune.The other day I attended Transforming Healthcare Equality into Equity 2016 Diversity Summit. This was presented by Mission Hospital and Mountain Area Health Education Center ( MAHEC) to address health care disparities locally and nationally.
The speakers were both black and white. Using research and clinical data, presentations on the realities that Infant Mortality Rates and cancer treatments are different for blacks and whites were disturbing, illuminating and powerful. We were taken through processes of discovering our own unconsciously held habits and beliefs about care for African Americans and whites. There were suggestions of avenues to pursue in addressing the disparities that would lead to solutions. I learned about the physical and emotional effects of micro aggressions, unconscious small statements, inferences or put-downs that hurt.
I was reminded of my place of privilege when speakers shared their experiences navigating the educational and health systems as people of color or of a gender difference. I experienced deep empathy and the power of the word justice. I came home feeling huge love for the whole human family and my heart was open. I was enriched by the deep personal work that we shared and will be continued. As a nurse, I have taken care of all kinds of people. I am now more aware of my judging mind and how it influences my presence and the care I give.
“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.” Cornell West
My biggest take away was that I no longer have guilt! I am committed to use my privilege to work for justice both in the work place and for health care recipients. I am not sure what this will look like. Right now speaking up when I notice an injustice or inequity and writing on this topic is my beginning. I will keep you posted.
Is there injustice in the health care system where you work? If so, is it being addressed?
Please share with us your experiences in this realm as we open the conversation to deepening our understanding and expanding our hearts.
Recognizing privilege is as important as recognizing its lack and the effects of exclusion