I think it's fair to say 2020 has upheaveled society and is getting to the dusty long neglected corners of our collective identity. Like a Spring clean up, it is messy, it is sad and devastating in certain instances to say the least. The silver lining, is never have I ever been so confronted, challenged and awoken to thinking and verbalising and choosing what I wish to dedicate my life to. And this while expecting my first daughter in the months to come.
The result of this evolution is I have never been so attentive to politics since walking McGill campus proudly tauting my Obama copy of "The Audacity of Hope" during my days as a young and hopeful undergrad Anthropology days 12 years ago. Before being disappointment by Harper's appointment shortly after in Canada, and then realizing what a racist joke the Quebec political landscape was (having not forgotten White men applauding and kissing each other at the passing of the "Charter of Values" which seems like a ancestral continuum to Francois Legaults current Frankenstein of a public philosophy acknowleding that systemic discrimination may exist, but still denying systemic racism...all the while a big giant Christian cross lays on the peak of the mountain of my hometown of Montreal, QC, and Joyce Echequan's family of seven children continue to grieve her loss at the hands of a Montreal hospital staff telling her "she was only good for f*cking* on her deathbed).
The silver lining of this year's happenings are that, I am faced with my mortality as a pregnant Black Physcian working during the pandemic. I am faced with the vulnerability of bringing a life into this world as a Black mother and to my Middle Eastern partner. I maintain, continueing to refer to Brenee Brown's work of "Daring Greatly", how the beauty of my human life to me resides in this vulnerability.
What has covid, BLM, the re-election of Trump threat by voter suppression, the process of appointment of Amy Coney Barrett* to the Supreme Court of the US reversing everything Ruth Baker Gainsburg's lifework and the Affordable Health Care Act done for me?*
I would not be as driven as I am do my Master's of Public health, gain political and economic literacy.
I would not be motivated to even think of starting to strategize how to speak out to the parallel racist forces that infest our society in Canada (more markedly in Quebec, where my parents and partner's parents still reside).
I would not have taken up my most recent appointment as Chair of the Wellness Committee of Black Physicians of Canada in recognition that holding space for Black Physicians matters. Black Phyicians: those of us going out on a daily to help people in our work (during the pandemic but also much beyond), while most of us have faced and continue to face racism from patients and peers and colleagues in the workplace or in our medical education.
I would not have transitioned to wanting to advocate for Diversity and Inlcusion in wellness spaces in Ottawa to wanting to advocate at all levels of my life and career towards Anti-Racism and Decolonialization of our society.**
I would not be writing this thought-piece today, as a declaration to my journey going forward.
I highly encourage to read this work by Sume Ndumbe-Eyoh at the National Collaborating Center for Determinants of Health as a starting point of a framework that is healing to the societal tenents being upheaved to our awareness over the last half-year:
Let's Talk: Racism and Health Equity
* The case of Barrett is curious in itself. She exhibits how insidious white supremacy can be veiled in the mask of saviourism type "you fit here in my doll house" way that she (and many a history of privileged White women who want to "be good. do good" in the world non-introspectively spread the same rhetoric in this world) differentially speaks about her adopted children from Haiti vs how she speaks of her biological children.
**Diversity means a wellness space must reflect the diversity of the population it is located in. Inclusion means people of diverse demographics must have safe opportunities to reclaim their rights to have agency in wellness spaces. Anti-racism means we must actively counter the social forces upholding beliefs (either implicit in policy or institutions, or in accepted culture) the illusion of the existence of biological races and racial hierarchy. Decolonialism to me means dismantling the tenets that permeate North-American culture for the last 4 centuries that harbour Anti-Black and Anti-Indigenous Racism, Orientalism and White Supremacy.