Friday, January 1, 2016

Saying their names

I don’t have a television but your story flashes across my Facebook feed, my friends tell me about you, my husband the Anthropologist tells me about you, and I look you up online.

You were bullied for being a cheerleader and you took your life (Ronin Shimizu). You went out for a pack of Skittles, a stranger chased you, you were shot and killed (Trayvon Martin). You were selling cigarettes on the streets of New York and you were choked to death as you screamed “I can’t breathe” (Eric Garner). You were playing with your big brother and he accidentally shot and killed you with a gun you found (9 month old in Missouri whose name will not be released). You were born a girl but your birth body was that of a boy, you tried to be your true self but took your own life after not being accepted by your parents (Leelah Alcorn). You were misunderstood, you were playing with a toy gun in the park and you were killed (Tamir Rice). You were with your friends listening to music in your car at a convenience store when a stranger approached you and began arguing with you about your music, he shot you and you died and he went back to his hotel room, walked his dog, and had dinner and drinks (Jordan Davis).

I honor your legacy with my tears. I think about your family. I snuggle my little one more tightly knowing this world is both a beautiful and dangerous place. I honor you with this post; I apologize it has taken me months to find the courage to say your name in this space. This space that is sacred to me but after my last post about Trayvon Martin received some insensitive comments I was hesitant to share some of my deeper feelings since I don’t see much social commentary here at MiM. Why is that? We are mothers and we are providers and don’t we see how unique our vantage point is? We can talk about the intersection of life and policy, public health and personal life from a place most others cannot. I struggle to find the time to read anything besides mindless fashion blogs when I’m not balancing my own needs with full-time medical practice, my husband’s needs and those of my four year old let alone to allow myself the freedom to reflect on society’s transgressions and tragedies.

I thought of you today while looking at my ever growing to do list. And because your life matters to me I put away other thoughts and wrote your name, I am saying your name.

#BlackLivesMatter #ProudLGBTQAlly #MothersInMedicine #2016LivingMyTruth


  1. I didn't see the comments on your last post but wanted to say that I appreciate this one. I'm a regular reader of this blog (and a mother in clinical psychology who relates to many of the work-life topics discussed here). Thanks for raising this topic here.

  2. Thank you. I have been trying to figure out how to write about this and I completely agree with you.

  3. I completely agree with you.

  4. Thank you for your thoughtful post and for raising the issue of social commentary on MiM. It is always risky to share your position on sensitive issues, and I appreciate your vulnerability in doing so. I believe there are two considerations to be made with making social commentary a common topic on a blog like this one. First, if the intention of the blog is to offer advice and support to other mothers, sometimes social commentary can be divisive. It doesn't have to be, but discussion can tend to go that direction. Secondly, I find that while it is fairly easy to support social commentary that honors a victim, it is much more difficult to find social commentary that explores the complexity of an issue. As a high school teacher, I have dealt with this challenge in walking with a community through teen suicide. In a public forum, we unite by honoring the victim and showing compassion to their families. Working toward real prevention, however, requires a much more uncomfortable discussion that requires a broad community of people (including the victim) to take responsibility that they may be unwilling or unable to take. This type of conversation is less suitable for a public forum. As a result, I tend to find public social commentary fairly one-sided. Thanks again for raising the topic! Good discussion.

    1. Thank you for your response. You ask if the intention of the blog is to offer advice and support to other mothers. That is not the stated purpose of the blog - the only one I can find on the website is: "Mothers in Medicine is a group blog by physician-mothers, writing about the unique challenges and joys of tending to two distinct patient populations". The reason why I started blogging for MiM 5 years ago was to do just that to reflect on my life as a physician mother. Some days that includes writing about pumping, my battles with my son's eczema, and other days it is how I am utterly afraid of this world as a Black physician and mother and LGBTQ ally. It just depends on what inspires me to write that day - each topic is written from my viewpoint as a physician mother, but my additional lenses lend a different perspective. So while I see that you mention it could be divisive, I keep reminding myself about the purpose of this blog and it is to reflect on my life. Maybe some day I will write for a blog that offers advice and support to other mothers but write now my self-therapy involves reflecting on my own life. Thank you for reading our blog. Thank you for your gentle comment - thank you for raising a very important point that I need to dig deeper and share the complexity of the issue. Thank you for reflecting on my post.


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