I know it has been a long time since I’ve posted on this blog or even posted on my medicine instagram – admittedly, these things don’t bring me as much joy as they once did. But this message is too important for me not to share it right now on this platform. BLACK LIVES MATTER!!
We must publicly denounce racism. Now is the time for all of us folks to self reflect and acknowledge the ways in which we continue to be racist and perpetuate racism, because we all do, we’ve been socialized to.
Take those moments to be uncomfortable with yourself then seek out information. Call in your white folks and EDUCATE. Hold your friends accountable for the words they say. This all matters, RIGHT NOW. We cannot stand by watching our black and indigenous brothers and sisters continue to suffer.
It’s not enough to say “I’m not racist”. We have to actively be anti-racist.
While I haven’t posted here yet, I have taken actions to combat racism in the wake of the senseless murders of George Floyd, Regis Korchinski-Pacquet, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Chantel Moore. I’m not including them here to congratulate myself or signal to you that I’m a “good” white person. I’m just hoping that these things may give you all ideas of ways in which you can start to learn and change things in your own communities.
- Emailed my department. I’ll put a “template” down below so that you can hold your own programs and departments accountable.
- Compiled and shared a resource list. I shared this publicly on my Facebook page and then with my program/department so that other folks can learn and unlearn with me. Look for that below as well. Please of course feel free to share it with anyone. This is be no means comprehensive, but a place where I thought some folks could start.
- Emailed an organization that I used to volunteer for – I’m now doing ongoing work to help them commit to tangible actions so that they can do better by our BIPOC folks.
- Donated to local organizations
- Educated those closest to me, like my partner and peers to help expand all of our minds.
- Challenged racist rhetoric on #MedTwitter . Medicine as an institution has perpetuated so much violence against racialized folks, we need to call ourselves in to be better.
- Ordered books by POC and about white fragility from my local book store. If you can, I encourage you not to purchase them from Amazon given that they mistreat and oppress their workforce. I ordered: The Skin We’re In by Desmond Cole, Medical Bondage by Deidre Cooper Owens, and White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
- Downloaded the free E-book The End of Policing by Alex S Vitale from Verso Books. Get it for free:
- Listened to podcasts made by BIPOC and talked about what I learned with the people I love
We are all learning, but we must not lean on black folks to teach us. We CANNOT ask people to lay their trauma bare for us so that we can learn. Challenge yourself. I’m happy to chat with anyone – I’m definitely not an expert, I’m learning and growing like you.
Please leave your favourite resources below if I’ve missed them!
“I am emailing you today in hopes that our program and department release statements in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement that has been sweeping North America in the wake of the senseless murder of George Floyd and Regis Korchinski-Paquet.
In obstetrics and gynecology we have a history clouded by the abuse and maltreatment of black bodies. Much of our foundational gynecological knowledge comes from studies and experimentation conducted on black women’s bodies and we perpetuated lies and myths in order to continue doing this work. HeLa cells were stolen from Henrietta Lack’s cervix without her consent. Furthermore, we know that women of colour have higher morbidity and mortality in both obstetrics and gynecology.
Everyday we strive to provide equitable care to our patients, but we cannot truly be a profession that champions equity if we don’t lend the power that we have as physicians to a sweeping movement that is fighting the injustices that black and racialized bodies face everyday. Furthermore, we cannot leave out my fellow black residents, our black learners, and our black colleagues in midwifery, nursing, and general practice, by staying silent. As Desmond Tutu said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, then you have chosen the side of the oppressor”
As obstetricians and gynecologists we understand that time is critical. In our profession, seconds can mean the difference between life and death. Right now for our black brothers and sisters, seconds is also the difference between life and death. A response from our department and program is essential to show that black lives really do matter. There is no time sooner than now.
I thank you for all that work that you do everyday and I look forward to your response. If you have questions I am happy to help. Below I have also included a list of resources for learning and unlearning that I have either utilized myself, or will be learning from in the next while”
From the Secret Life of Canada, two teaching guides they have created to accompany their podcast episodes. Link to podcast in the respective posts:
1) The Indian Act: https://www.cbc.ca/…/teaching-guide-the-indian-act-1.5290134
2) The Secret Life of the Province of Jamaica: https://www.cbc.ca/…/teaching-guide-the-secret-life-of-the-…
Podcasts that tackle race:
1) NPR Code Switch: https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/
2) Secret Life of Canada: https://www.cbc.ca/radio/secretlifeofcanada
3) Colour Code: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/…/colour-c…/article31494658/
For healthcare providers:
1) Medical Bondage by Deidre Cooper Owens: https://ugapress.org/book/9780820354750/medical-bondage/ Exploring how and why gynecologists used black bodies to advance our field
2) The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot http://rebeccaskloot.com/the-immortal-life/. This book is cherished on my bookshelf, having forced me to confront the racism in the very fabric of work I have benefited from. If you have ever heard of or utilized HeLa cells for conducting scientific experiments that you have benefited from cervical cancer cells stolen from a Henrietta’s body without her consent. Herself and her family never prospered from the billions generated from the sale of these cells.
1) From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle https://www.simonandschuster.ca/…/Jesse-Thist…/9781982101213. Easily one of the most profoundly moving books I read last year. In his debut memoir, Jesse, a Metis Cree man, recounts his traumatic and abusive past, surviving homelessness and incarceration, and despite all the odds being stacked against him, becoming a renowned scholar.
2) A Mind Spread Out on The Ground by Alicia Elliott https://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca/…/a-mind-sp…/9780385692380 Another moving novel I read last year. Alicia, a Haudenosaunee woman, covers various topics from the lens of her Indigeniety including race, poverty, the over-representation of Ingidenous youth in the child welfare system, sexual assault, and gentrification amongst others. This is a series of essays that should leave you uncomfortable as we as settler’s confront the colonial atrocities we have committed and the genocide that we continue to benefit from.
For the littles:
On Insta follow: @biracialbookworms for recommendations
For healthcare providers:
1) The San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Training. I have taken this course and I learned so much. It is guided by a facilitator and has been invaluable in my learning as a healthcare provider http://www.sanyas.ca/training
1) Sharing Privilege – run by @royalaroyala from Goodbodyfeel Movement Studio https://www.goodbodyfeel.com/aboutsharingprivilege
Ava DuVernay has two movies/series that are horrifying and should be mandatory for our learning and unlearning, both available on Netflix
1) The 13th: https://www.netflix.com/watch/80091741…
2) When They See Us: https://www.netflix.com/watch/80200643…
Music to explore;
1) A Tribe Called Red https://open.spotify.com/track/5e8v4ibmsMHxHLALe5KaiZ…
From their website: A Tribe Called Red promotes inclusivity, empathy and acceptance amongst all races and genders in the name of social justice. They believe that indigenous people need to define their identity on their own terms. If you share this vision, then you are already part of the Halluci Nation. “We are the Halluci Nation.”