Showing posts with label black lives matter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label black lives matter. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Don't forget they are someone's baby

Living in DC and taking the metro regularly provides me with ample fodder for social analysis and ample opportunities to be upset and amazed by humanity. For example, I get upset when able-bodied people see disabled, elderly, or pregnant people standing and sit in their seats anyway. Especially while pregnant, I spoke up very loudly (ex. As able-bodied men crowded on an elevator as I waddled to catch the door for a man in a wheelchair. I stared everyone down and said someone needs to get off so he can get on; we were obliged begrudgingly.). I am amazed when folks step in and help someone in need during an emergency.

An issue of growing contention in my neck of the woods is middle and high school students getting onto crowded trains. They are loud and there is often cursing involved. However, I have noticed that most of the adults regard them in a very unfriendly way or simply ignore them. The local listservs I am a member of are far worse; the disdain for these children is palpable and I have had to step in several times when the racism and classism became unbearable as well-to-do grown folks called children thugs, crooks, and goons. It literally hurts my heart!

I personally make it a point to acknowledge these teenagers every chance I get with a smile or a hello; sometimes I’m ignored or begrudgingly acknowledged, but oftentimes you can tell these young people relish the positive attention and are surprised to have been seen. I remind myself regularly that they are someone’s baby no matter how “hard” they are appearing to be. No matter how many tattoos they may have on their young skin. No matter how many curse words they and their friends yell. And I try to remember that someday my little Zo will be one of these students taking the train and I hope that others will treat him well knowing that he too is someone’s baby. My husband and I are well-read in the studies that show that Black boys like my Zo are seen as being older than they are by the majority and less innocent than they are by police (see FURTHER READING below). We know the sickening statistics of disproportionate violence against boys that look like him. We pray that folks will remember these children are someone’s baby and that he is ours.

To bring it back home to the DC metro, the other day on the train a handsome young man with beautifully styled locs and sagging skinny-jeans and a uniform high school shirt  entered the train with a young woman I assume was his girlfriend. His new-aged rap music (the kind old hip-hop heads like me can’t understand and abhor due to the crazy amounts of auto-tune) was blasting. Adults bristled. Some sucked their teeth. He walked on the train and I smiled at him, he was visibly surprised, smiled back sweetly and sat directly behind me. Every other word of his song was f--- this and blast that. I turned and said as gently and respectfully as I could “Sweetheart, don’t you have headphones or something? My old ears just cannot take all of that cursing.” He said quickly “Ohhhhh my bad! My headphones broke and I don’t have another pair, My bad!!!” I pulled out a set of headphones from my bag and said “here, you can have these!” He smiled and said “For real?!? You serious?!? Thank you so much!” And just like that - connection. Respect. Compassion. His mama would be happy.

It could have ended differently. Someone else could have started cursing at him. He could have rebuffed my offer and cussed me out. But it ended wonderfully. And I modeled appropriate, compassionate behavior for children and adults alike.

I exited the train at my stop and wished him and his lady a good day and he did so too.


Monday, February 22, 2016

The other mothers of medicine...

The greats we learn about.  Often men.  Many of us have heard and read the stories of the "Fathers" of modern medicine.

But let's know and share and never forget the story of these women, Anarcha, Lucy, and Betsey.  We might call them the "mothers" of medicine, of modern gynecology.  Alas, these enslaved women whose bodies were used for physician's research. Without anesthesia.  Consent unknown.

Take a moment to listen to this moving podcast at NPR's Hidden Brain with historian and physician Vanessa Northington Gamble, and artist and author Bettina Judd, telling these stories that need to be told.


Saturday, January 2, 2016

Conversations with My Daughter

This morning as she read the newspaper report of yet another shooting death.

Why does this keep happening, Mom?

It's complicated.

After all those kids were killed in Newtown, you'd think someone would do something. And black kids get killed all the time - way more often than white kids.


Can't the President do something to fix this? To stop this? Can he make guns illegal?

You learned about checks and balances in the Constitution, right? The President can't act on his own.

So Congress needs to make a law?

Yes. And the National Rifle Association spends a lot of money to make sure they don't pass laws limiting access to guns.

Do you think we should do something?

Yes. Your dad and I do what we can to support politicians who would pass reasonable controls - to treat a gun like a car. Before you can get a driver's license, you'll need to pass two tests and practice for at least 65 hours, and we need to have insurance.

I guess criminals will always be able to get guns. They can steal them.

Yes. I don't think we'll completely stop gun-related crime. I do think we can reduce the number of accidental shootings and suicides by gun, though, and I think we should.

Well, the way it is just isn't right.

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