I Am Them

My friend Carolyn Thomas posted an open letter I wrote on her website Heart Sisters.  As a result, Medicine X asked me to participate in their conference this year and presented my reading a shorter version – video below.

“Dear Medicine X Conference organizers,

“Your upcoming healthcare conference forum on under-served populations brings up a concern for me that I hope you will consider in the next few months.  The best way I can explain my concern is through this example:  

“A few years ago, my county had a forum to develop their Community Health Improvement Plan and develop solutions to:

  • increase access to healthy foods
  • address mental health and primary health gaps
  • improve transportation
  • decrease obesity

“These were pre-set objectives set by some bureaucratic process unknown to me. I got an invite to attend the meetings to develop policy, and so I went – not in a professional capacity, but as an ordinary citizen who will be directly affected by these policies.

“Having no car, I took the bus to get there, even though the bus line doesn’t drop off within a half mile of the place they held the meetings.  I showed up to see all attendees were representatives of non-profit advocacy groups. And when we started, the County Commissioner gave a speech about how great it was that we were all there to “help the under-served in our city and county”, how THEY needed US to help them, how the things WE would do there to help THEM would be so great.

“I raised my hand and asked:

“Could we stop talking about ‘us vs. them’ because I’m the ‘them’ you are talking about. I am on food stamps and have no money for a car.”

Read the rest here.



2 Responses to I Am Them

  1. Hello Erin – to quote a few audience members at the Medicine X conference who heard your memorable recorded presentation:

    Dr. Mike Savilla: “THE most powerful three minutes of Day One was by someone who wasn’t even at #MedX in person… ”

    Colleen Young: “You could’ve heard a pin drop during this presentation.”

    Dr. Ann Becker-Schutte, quoted in MedCity News: “Feeling a bit of cognitive dissonance as I look at the beautiful room here and hearing stories of intense health disparities.”

    I think you rocked some stereotypes in your too-brief (in my opinion!) presentation! Well done, girl.


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