As a physician, business owner, and mindful leader, I firmly believe that Black Lives Matter.
As a non-Black woman of color, I stand against systemic racism and social injustice. I didn’t just post on social media, but I carefully spent the last few months to pause, listen, and learn how to be a better ally to the Black community.
We are at a critical time in history where we must take action in the pandemic of racism in the United States. We have watched (yet again) the horrific death of George Floyd due to police brutality. We watched a video of him pleading for his life, “I can’t breathe.” In the meantime, we are still seeking justice for Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and thousands of other unnamed Black men and women who have died due to racial and social injustice.
If we continue to stay silent, we deny men and women in the Black community the ability to breathe.
Racism and social injustice are also a public health crisis. I’ve spent my entire medical career acutely aware of the inequalities in healthcare, and now we see a disproportionate number of black patients dying due to COVID-19. The people who are most in need of wellness programs and integrative/functional medicine are not receiving this type of care. People who are the most susceptible to COVID-19 are also facing chronic disease, and embody what we call the essential worker—those at the front-line who cannot work from home.
Statistics show that minority populations in the US disproportionally make up essential workers. According to Sharrelle Barber of Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health, as reported in an April 2020 edition of the Lancet, the pre-existing racial and health inequalities already present in the US are being exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. These front-line workers typically do not have the privilege of staying at home, said Barber.
Essential workers, almost by definition, cannot distance themselves from the public. Grocery store and restaurant staff, healthcare practitioners, delivery drivers, factory workers are risking their lives to protect and bring comfort to the privileged.
Mindfulness teaches us to look within, but meditation and being mindful does not teach us to stay quiet.
PAUSE. LISTEN. LEARN.
As a non-Black person of color, physician, leader, and business owner, I am working towards being a better advocate for the Black community. Right now, I am supporting black scholars, activists, and medical colleagues by buying and learning from their books and programs.
My goal is not only to start this marathon but, more importantly, to understand how I can be an ongoing part of the solution. I’ve been mostly silent on social media as I work behind the scenes to help Black men & women in healthcare elevate their platforms. I will continue to refer to Black male and female healthcare providers to speakers bureaus and the media. I am also working with Black healthcare scholars to include workplace wellness and mental health data in my corporate programs.
My specialty is brain and mental health, I can start by helping is sharing resources to help increase visibility around the health disparities for minorities for healthcare.
- I have volunteered to join several organizations’ task forces, including Mindshare 365 and the Academy of Integrative Health Medicine (AIHM).
- The goal is to learn from experts about the disparity in healthcare for BIPOC community, help create solutions to increase access and delivery of wellness programs and integrative/functional medicine.
- Additionally, more physicians, nurses, and healthcare providers of the BIPOC community need to be trained in integrative/functional medicine.
- We will be mindful of every business we serve, and non-profit organizations we support and assess whether they are taking a meaningful stand against racism.
- We are no longer doing business with or donate time/money/services to profit and non-profit organizations that do not support Black Lives Matter and the fight against racism and social injustice.
Workplace Wellness Consultant/Professional Speaker
- We have been identifying Black physicians, nurses, and speakers and creating introductions to Speakers’ Bureaus. American professional speakers’ bureaus underrepresent black speakers.
- We have introduced Black subject matter experts in the fields of medicine, mental health, and healthcare policy to our media contacts.
- I have joined the taskforces and committees of national and state organizations dedicated to integrative & functional medicine to work to bring wellness to a diverse population.
- We include data on diversity and stress-management and mental health in the workplace in all of our presentations. The
How do we start the conversation together?
- 5 Things to Stop Saying if You Care About Fighting Racism: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/subtly-racist-things-to-stop-saying
- Disrupting systemic racism in the mindfulness movement: https://www.mindful.org/disrupting-systemic-whiteness-mindfulness-movement/
- Exposing myths of race-based medicine with Dr. Dorothy Roberts: https://www.tedmed.com/speakers/show?id=526467
- Moving Justice Forward: Colorblind Podcast with Vanessa Echols: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/moving-justice-forward/id1365789852?i=1000476920044
- Mindfulness for Working Against Racism With Rhonda Magee: https://youtu.be/iGVZxPTn0hQ
“You Belong” by Sebene Selassie
Now available for pre-order: https://www.sebeneselassie.com/youbelong
Follow her on IG: https://www.instagram.com/sebeneselassie/
- Williams, D.R. “Miles to go before we Sleep: Racial Inequities in Health.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 53(3): 279-295, 2012.
- Sternthal, M., Slopen, N., Williams, D.R. “Racial Disparities in Health: How Much Does Stress Really Matter?” Du Bois Review 8(1): 95-113, 2011.
- Reducing disparity in neurologic care What can we do? Heidi Moawad, Charles Flippen Neurology Feb 2019, 92 (6) 257-258;
- Le Cook B, Manning W, Alegria M. Measuring disparities across the distribution of mental health care expenditures. J Ment Health Policy Econ. 2013;16(1):3‐12.
- Gray DM 2nd, Anyane-Yeboa A, Balzora S, Issaka RB, May FP. COVID-19 and the other pandemic: populations made vulnerable by systemic inequity. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. Published online June 15, 2020. doi:1038/s41575-020-0330-8
- Hostetter M, Klein S. In Focus: Reducing racial disparities in health care by confronting racism. The Commonwealth Fund. Published September 27, 2018. Accessed June 29, 2020. https://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/newsletter-article/2018/sep/focus-reducing-racial-disparities-health-care-confronting
- Quiñones AR, Botoseneanu A, Markwardt S, et al. Racial/ethnic differences in multimorbidity development and chronic disease accumulation for middle-aged adults. PLoS One. 2019;14(6):e0218462. doi:1371/journal.pone.0218462