and the drama in politics right now, is that it’s in your face. You can’t avoid it – it’s on social media, it’s on the news, it’s online. It really is not the responsibility of the Black community to fix things – or the health care providers – it has to be everyone, coming together as a community. When it comes to Black Lives Matter and some of the disparities being brought to the surface, it is up to our white allies to realize how they can help and what mindset shifts they have to make, what conversations they have to have in rooms and at tables where decisions are being made, [and] they have to advocate for those changes. Folks in the health care world have been fighting this battle to make things equal long before I’ve been in medicine, and Black folks have been fighting for centuries to make things equal. AGW Right. It’s not just the health care industry.
DR. ASHLY GASKIN-WASSON
Licensed Psychologist, Psychological Assessment, Consultation & Therapy Center
long term, we need to change policies that would ensure equity for people of color, such as raising the minimum wage to a living wage, expanding access to Medicaid, expanding the social safety net, increasing access to safe and affordable housing, ensuring quality education and providing wealth-building opportunities. We can’t return to “normal.” We need to adapt to meet the needs of community members and make changes for the long-term to improve health outcomes for those most impacted. This may involve changing policies and practices, how we engage the community, make decisions and allocate resources. TB I think we need to have both a short- and long-
range view. Maybe in 2022, there will be a vaccine, but until then, we can’t just proceed with blinders on. We have to keep this same energy, and find your lane – whether that’s marching, educating, using your local influence – each piece is important.
All institutions are being affected. It isn’t because of a gap in achievement; it’s a gap in resources. Those same policies and practices I mentioned have also led JB Fewer than 3% of dietitians are Black. We all know to many people of color being essential workers on there are large disparities in health – especially with the front lines, and not just in health care, but also diet-related chronic conditions – and Black people are driving buses, working at stores that are still open, disproportionately affected by those, so it’s shocking MARISSA MORTIBOY etc. I’ve had a lot of conversations with my patients to hear that fewer than 3% of the field represent that Coordinator, Partnership for who are people of color and seeing this time as an population. I hope this conversation can encourage a Healthy Durham opportunity to try to engage with dismantling racism, girls who look like me to explore these kinds of roles in but people are experiencing a lot of burnout, too. We health and medicine. have conversations around the scale of balancing activism and advocacy with self-care, and knowing the scale is going to be tipped depending AGW I think only 4 or 5% of psychologists are Black – we can’t carry on your needs and values, and that’s OK, too. People often feel guilty everyone, so in terms of long-term solutions, why are there only so about self-care, but if you see it as a process – one that other people are many of us in the field? Doctoral programs, social work programs also experiencing – you can give yourself time to recover. and counseling programs need not only recruitment, but retention, and for those institutions to implement policies to ensure that the JB I’m from Tarboro, but I have been here long enough to see a lot of educational environment isn’t hostile. In addition, federal and private change. I’m curious to see what it will look like a couple of years from student loans need to be forgiven – these are barriers to success in now, and like Nicole said, what spaces will exist for Black people. At education that shouldn’t exist. the moment, I have seen people intentionally seeking Black businesses to support, which is so exciting. I hear about this struggle from my TB I’m still just thinking about George Floyd. Unfortunately, for clients and think about my 2-year-old son – for now, I’m focused on many of us, we have a plethora of firsthand stories like that that building his routines and fostering his independence, both as a human we can tell – and I’m not that old, and so that doesn’t include and around food. anything that happened before I was born. So many of us have been conditioned to have this expectation that we will be treated MM We need to look at the bigger picture to support differently, and it is not OK – it isn’t normal. We all need to keep low-income families and people of color. There are immediate needs, feeling this every time a story appears in the media until there are no such as income support, housing and food. But to improve outcomes more stories. august 2020
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