I have been trying to write this newsletter for a month now, but the despair of this moment we are in has kept me from doing it. What can I say that every single business / celebrity / political figure / news reporter who is worth anything hasn’t already said?
Racism is an evil. Racism is a public health emergency. There must be a change in how we police our communities.
I have partly kept my sanity by watching the late-night comedy shows. Their truth telling, as well as their ripping to shreds of the current administration, are deeply satisfying. I am heartened by all the changes happening that are so long in coming—and those changes are not nearly enough. I think the fact that we are all captive audiences due to the pandemic has helped white people see in a way they have previously chosen not to.
I have read and watched videos of many anti racism scholars, writers and speakers.
What I Recommend
Ijeoma Oluo - So you want to talk about race
Ibram X. Kendi - How to Be an AntiRacist
Robin DiAngelo - White Fragility
I especially recommend this absolutely stunning and moving impromptu sermon by author Kimberly Jones. Jones gives a powerful, eloquent speech that explains in detail why this is happening (racism across 450 years) and the difference between protesting, rioting and looting in 2020.
And this article in the New York Times, written by Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation.
Are You Willing to Give Up Your Privilege?
Philanthropy alone won’t save the American dream.
This is something I have been thinking and talking about to my peers, my family, and my community. What am I willing to give up?
I have been thinking about it in a very concrete way. As a physician, what would I be willing to do (or to give up) had I been or if I should be present when someone is calmly snuffing out someone’s life?
I am committed, essentially programmed, by an inborn quality and by my medical training, to save lives, to do all I can to try to heal. Like me, this is true of most healthcare workers.
This is why you have seen such incredible sacrifice on the part of all healthcare workers to take care of people with COVID-19, when that care becomes a risk to themselves, their own families, and their communities.
What am I willing to give up?
I am willing to give up the ease of access I have to the highest level of medical care if it means that everyone now has access to life-saving and preventative medical care.
I am willing to pay higher taxes if it means we have social services for all that need them—housing, mental health services, food, and a host of other needs.
I am willing to stand up to systemic racism and violence against black and brown bodies to ensure that we all have equal opportunities in this life.
Am I willing to give up my life?
This is the scene I replay over and over in my mind. Is there a chance that a 60 something white woman, a physician, could have used my privilege to get this to stop before it was too late, without getting shot? In my screenplay I am successful. That’s the benefit of me being the author.
Today I watched this clip from Democracy Now.
Noura Erakat, a well-known Palestinian human rights lawyer who teaches at Rutgers, is interviewed and speaks passionately about her cousin who was murdered at a check point in the West Bank. It reminded me of “home."
Her cousin bled for 1.5 hours without being taken to a hospital. The same question ran through my head. If I had been there what would I have done?
I can add my voice to the many who have said racism is a health emergency. We are all dying from it. Are those of us who have it willing to give up our privilege? Are you? The answer has to be yes.
As I work from home, I've had more time to reflect on the challenges we all face during this time of social upheaval. While my life hasn't changed significantly, I often work from home, I know that it has upended the lives of my friends and family.
It is finally clear how fragile our healthcare system is, and that our leaders are struggling to meet the demands of this pandemic. We all feel worried, nervous, anxious, and overwhelmed. While there is a breadth of daily information on aspects of the outbreak, it isn't always clear how that may affect you in your personal situation.
This is where I can help.
As a healthcare advocate, I want to be there for you and your family, to answer your specific questions, and to provide guidance, research, answers, and compassion. Whether you are facing pregnancy during the coronavirus and have concerns, or you are caring for an elderly parent and want to ensure you are both staying safe, or you are having health complications and feel you aren't being heard. I want to help you.
I am expanding my services to include one-hour consultations to provide answers to any immediate questions, offer counseling and guidance about your concerns, and research options and opportunities to ensure you feel secure in your health, and the health of those you love.
Schedule your session today. I am here for you.
I recently had a conversation with a good friend who has a family member with a serious illness. She told me that close friends of the family had called her in distress about this family member, as if she was expected to comfort them! This made me remember an article I read recently about “ring theory.” I sent this article to my friend and suggested she send it to all of her friends and family. It’s important information about how to cope with friends and family who are dealing with a crisis or death. I think it is so necessary to understand, that I wanted to spread the word to all of you. (It’s also been called the circle of kvetching, for those who can relate to the Yiddish term). Here is the original article:
How Not to Say the Wrong Thing
by Susan Silk and Barry Goldman
Last year Elana Premack Sandler wrote this excellent explanatory article:
Ring Theory Helps us Bring Comfort In
by Elana Premack Sandler, LCSW, MPH
A few years ago, psychologist Susan Silk and her friend Barry Goldman wrote a piece about a concept they called the “Ring Theory.”
It’s a theory to help yourself know what to do in a crisis. If the crisis is happening to you, you’re in the center of the ring. If the crisis is not happening to you, you’re in one of the outer circles.
Here are the basic tenets paraphrased from Silk and Goodman’s article:
The concept is simple: “comfort in, dump out.”
I think disseminating this information will make the world a better place! It seems obvious when reading about the theory, but we have all likely been in the position of saying something similar that we later regretted. So please share this far and wide. As Susan Silk and Barry Goldman have said “And don’t worry. You’ll get your turn in the center ring. You can count on that.”
Dr. Sima Kahn muses on being a healthcare advocate, the troubles with our healthcare system, and how to advocate for ourselves.