Let’s use our differences to connect, not divide

We may not always recognize our or others’ biases but that makes them no less real. Whether unconscious- implicit or conscious-explicit, biases harm all of us by blocking communication and preventing relationships that could benefit to everyone.

I have connected on Facebook with Dr.T.M., an emergency room physician, due to our shared love of ballroom dancing. Usually her posts are lighthearted, full of news about her family, travel, and dancing. But recently she wrote a public post that tugged at my heart.

I am a proud Asian American. I am feeling hurt and saddened right now. I have dedicated my life to serving ALL people and it’s never been for money or fame. It’s been about the opportunity to give back to the America that took me in as a refugee. To pay it forward.

The recent hate crimes are the antithesis to my very existence, the opposite of every goal in my book. I do not see any good from hate and only unintended consequences. If I can only have one wish come true it would be that we find a way to use our differences to connect with one another. That we can speak and act from a place of love, not hate.

Forever and For always, love not hate.

Mural in the Chinatown neighborhood of Chicago, IL

She of course is referring to recent acts of violence directed at Asian Americans, which isn’t new but aggravated by attitudes that blame the pandemic on them . Bigotry and bias directed toward any ethnicity isn’t new, but has become more blatant due to multiple recent events that highlight the inequities we allow to persist.

  • The pandemic has disproportionately effected persons of color.
  • Vaccination efforts have lagged in neighborhoods of color.
  • People of color “profiled” by law enforcement and other public authorities.
  • Laws and public policy which may restrict access to voting
  • Women underrepresented in the STEM fields and upper management of business.
  • The use of symbols and slogans that stigmatize and demean certain groups of people
  • Using offensive, demeaning names to characterize certain groups, and excusing it as “freedom of speech”

People who referred to the SAR-CoV-2 virus as “Chinese” perpetuated discriminatory stereotypes. But viruses don’t discriminate, neither do they recognize or respect international boundaries. They don’t carry passports or needs visas to roam the world. .

a brick building decorated with Chinese art
art décor on a building in Chinatown Chicago

Bias is a prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another usually in a way that’s considered to be unfair.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
children standing outside a school in Bangladesh
a school in Bangladesh, where my husband volunteered to teach computing

But color or ethnicity aren’t the only factors that play into prejudice-one’s gender, age, religion, occupation, physical appearance and ability, education, income- are often used to judge a person’s worth.

Unconscious (implicit) biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Healthcare is not exempt from implicit bias, and it works both ways. Doctors and other healthcare workers may behave differently toward patients based on gender, skin color, and ethnicity in ways that can negatively impact their care.

And patients may make assumptions about their providers, assuming status based on the same characteristics; for example, assuming that females are nurses, rather than physicians; or assuming a black male is an orderly rather than a surgeon.

Vietnamese children with an American woman, blowing bubbles
a VWAM volunteer team entertaining children in Vietnam

We may not always recognize our or others’ biases but that makes them no less real. Whether unconscious- implicit or conscious-explicit, biases harm all of us by blocking communication and preventing relationships that could benefit to everyone.

And ironically enough, we can even unconsciously violate our own conscious values!
two women in Thai dress
Two of the staff at a resort in Thailand where we stayed
How can we alter our perceptions and biases?
  • Focus within
  • Learn about others
  • Engage in dialogue
  • EXpand the options
More about this FLEX plan at this link.
a group of American and Thai healthcare workers
working with Thai healthcare professionals on a volunteer trip to Thailand (I am second from left, middle row.)

exploring the HEART of “love, not hate”

I hope you enjoyed the photos from some of my travels. And I hope this post caused you to recognize and examine your own biases-implicit and otherwise; I know I have. Perhaps you recognized ways you unintentionally perpetuate or tolerate undeserved and destructive bias

Thanks for following this blog. If you’re visiting, I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me. I also want you to find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest , Instagram, and LinkedIn .

an ornate shrine in Thailand
Me visiting Thailand

Dr. Aletha

BLOGGERS PIT STOP FEATURED

This post was featured April 2, 2021.

Health lessons from Martin Luther King, Jr.

African-Americans frequently suffer health disparities and are more susceptible to certain disorders than other races. We doctors know our black patients experience more difficulty with these conditions in particular-diabetes, asthma, sarcoidosis, hypertension, stroke, and cancers.  

 

The Reverend Dr. King led the Civil Rights Movement in the United States from the mid-1950s until his death by assassination in 1968.

His famous “I have a dream” speech, delivered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. is  remembered, read, and recited by people all over the country if not the world on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day every year.

The  United States observes the third Monday of January as a federal holiday in honor and memory of the birthday of the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929)

 Health effects of violence

Dr. King’s life reminds us of the  tragic effects of interpersonal violence. His life ended suddenly and prematurely when, on April 4, 1968, an assailant shot him as he stood on a hotel balcony. He had delivered his last speech just the day before. The shooter was apprehended, and after confessing to the murder, sentenced to life in prison where he died.

Most people know of Dr. King’s assassination, but don’t know his mother, Alberta Williams King, also died violently. At age 69, sitting at the organ of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Mrs. King was shot and killed on June 30, 1974. Her  23-year-old assailant received a life sentence and died in prison.

Violence between persons creates social, economic and political problems, and serious medical consequences. It is a leading cause of death, especially in children, adolescents and young adults.

Non-fatal injuries often cause severe and permanent disability that changes lives, burdens families and increases medical costs astronomically. These include

  • TBI, traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries leading to paraplegia, quadriplegia, ventilator dependence
  • Amputations of limbs
  • PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder; other forms of anxiety; depression
  • Chronic pain, often leading to opiate dependence

Here is a previous post  about  why and how we need to address violence in our society .

Why we need to end violence and how to stop it

Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.

Dr. King

Effects of health disparities

This observance also reminds us of the problem of health disparity. Health disparities are

preventable differences in illness, injury, violence, or access to health care that happen to  socially disadvantaged populations.

These populations can be defined by factors such as

  • race or ethnicity,
  • gender,
  • education or income,
  • disability,
  • geographic location (e.g., rural or urban),
  • sexual orientation.

Health disparities are directly related to the past and present  unequal distribution of social, political, economic, and environmental resources.

African-Americans frequently suffer health disparities and are more susceptible to certain disorders than other races. We doctors know our black patients experience more difficulty with these conditions in particular-diabetes, asthma, sarcoidosis, hypertension, stroke, and cancers.  Dr. King’s father, Martin Sr. ,died of a heart attack. His widow, Coretta Scott King, died of ovarian cancer.

Learn Why 7 Deadly Diseases Strike Blacks Most  from WebMD

You can learn more about Dr. King and listen to part of his famous speech at

Biography.com

"I have a dream" by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Plaque honoring “I have a dream” speech by Dr. King , in Washington D.C. looking toward the Washington Monument

You can read the full text of the speech at

I Have A Dream….

I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies,

education and culture for their minds,

and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.

Dr. King

The following book suggestions lead to affiliate links which may pay a commission to this blog at no extra cost to you. These commissions help me fund this blog.

a biography about Dr. King written for children

I Am Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am Martin Luther King book
Martin Luther King Jr.

sharing the dream of HEALTH equality

Thank you for joining me to remember the late Dr. King.

Thanks for following this blog. If you’re visiting, I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me. I also want you to find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest , Instagram, and LinkedIn .