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Why I'm no longer afraid to speak about my political views as a healthcare provider

Updated: Jan 8, 2021


As healthcare professionals, we are often told to put our patients first. We are told to advocate for our patients and to promote principals of social justice and human rights. We are also told in the workplace, it can be frowned upon to speak about politics. However, we are in a time in which disease and public health have become political arguments. My silence indicates complacency with the current policies and administration.

I cannot be silent.

Since a young age, I have been fascinated with politics. My family errs on a conservative side, so even as a pre-teen, voicing my political views was discouraged. In an environment that values a lack of confrontation, silence is valued. Providing patient care is no different.

I frequently hear patients and/or their families voice racist comments. There is never a point in nursing or nurse practitioner school in which you learn to respond to this. As a white woman, often people assume that I am a safe person to voice discrimination to.

As of 2020, I've heard plenty of times that "COVID is a hoax." I've heard comments of fear about how the Black Lives Matter protests are going to "loot" and "rob" their neighborhoods. My response has always been something along the line of "well, my friends are risking their lives as nurses in hospitals..and I just attended a BLM protest and I sure didn't see any looting. We were just marching in downtown -- which you live quite far away from."

In moving toward launching Paperflower Psychiatry LLC, I've heard quite a few comments (from white folk) that being politically vocal would not help my business. In a day and age that we are so divided that even our president refuses to condemn white supremacy, I

suppose I am not surprised to hear this.

But I don't care.

I am an anti-racist. I wholesomely support Black Lives Matter. I am an ally. I am pro-LGBTQ rights. I am a feminist. I am married to a man of color. My friends are people of color and/or LGBTQ. Many of my patients have been people of color, trans, LGBTQ, or undocumented. My silence indicates that I am apathetic to the people that I love and care for. I am not okay with this.

If that affects the people who are willing to be patients, then that is okay.

I once interviewed at a clinic in Arizona in which I sat in a room with 4 male doctors who were interviewing me. They were actually making jokes about how white privilege doesn't exist. They made negative comments about women and they made negative comments about people of color. It literally made me ill, and I left the interview and told the recruiter I was disgusted.

If you are reading this, and disagree with what I am saying, I'd be more than happy to direct you to that clinic in which you can have your shared values. As a healthcare provider, I will not compromise my values or allow entire groups of people to be put down as inferior. I cannot pretend the racist history of white people killing Native Americans and making people slaves does not exist. I cannot ignore the racist history of medicine and experimentation.

I will not ignore the fact that women detained by ICE are being forced to have hysterectomies without consent, and that black people are being killed by police. Black people are being imprisoned. Black women are dying at significantly higher rates during pregnancy and child birth. In psychiatry, black people are more likely to be misdiagnosed because the DSM was written for white people.

White people need to understand that it is not too early to talk about racism. It is not too early to talk about oppression and history. It is not taboo. Black women all over America are talking to their children about how to avoid being killed by the police. To their children.

Children of immigrants are watching their mom's and dad's being torn away from them by ICE officers, and wondering if they will ever be able to see them again. Children are sitting in cages on U.S. territory and people are okay with that. I have been offered a position to go to an ICE facility and do psych meds am I going to prescribe an antipsychotic and medicate grief, pain, fear, anxiety and trauma when the solution is as simple as giving them back to their parents?

Someday my kids are going to read about 2020 in history, and I will not have them look back at me and questioning my silence.

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