Cultural and Racial Experiences Impacting Health and Emotion—

Numerous articles have been written on the
impact of race on access to healthcare. We now
see alarming health disparities which find racial
minorities more likely to be infected with COVID
-19 and experience serious and fatal outcomes. We have
learned that there are many factors involved in a group’s
access to healthcare. If the emotional and social climate is
not conducive to a sense of trust, then healthcare may be
avoided with a very negative affect.
We are coming to understand that we are not alone in our
struggles in life. We are part of a culture, a race or
community, all of which impact us in various ways. There are
positive ways in which our sense of culture is protective. We
may identify with the strengths of our history and tradition
and experience pride but there is another part of our
experience of race and culture. That is the issue of how we
are perceived by others.
I will briefly share an experience told to me by one of our
members. She was about to have surgery and was being
wheeled into the operating room with her surgeon, whom
she had known for years, at her head and the
anesthesiologist whom she had just met at her foot. They
were having a lively conversation about an upcoming Ohio
State game. The ride down the hall seemed to take forever.
The two male physicians were having a good time talking
sports. The patient felt left out. Finally, perhaps out of sheer
anxiety, she said to the anesthesiologist “when we get to the
operating room are you going to ask me to count backwards
from 100?” Perhaps, somewhat miffed by this interruption,
the anesthesiologist said to her, “OK when we get to be
operating room I’ll ask you to count money.” He said that in a
somewhat arch and condescending tone. What was the
intention of this comment? Was it a crude attempt at humor?
Was there some other message? We will never know but the
memory remained with the patient for many years.
Ambiguous social interactions with minority individuals are
not unique. Often micro aggressions are only dimly perceived
by the speaker and the recipient of the comment. When
discussed, the speaker may say, ”well I never meant that to
harm you in any way, I was just making a joke.”
Nonetheless the world of persons perceived as minority is
often unlike those of the dominant or majority group. This
may lead to social distancing and actual social avoidance.
When you believe you’re being judged, being condescended
to or in some way not being treated as an individual but as a
stereotype there is ample opportunity for a wide range of
forms of social discomfort and mistrust.

Scientists Start to Tease Out the Subtler Ways
Racism Hurts Health—NPR, November 11, 2017—Rae
Ellen Bichell
The day Dr. Roberto Montenegro finished his Ph.D. was
memorable. But not for the right reasons.
“I still cringe when I think about it,” says Montenegro.
It had started well. His colleagues at UCLA had taken him
and his girlfriend (now wife) out to a fancy restaurant to
“I was dressed up in the fanciest suit I had at the time
and my wife looked beautiful, like always,” he says. “We
laughed and we ate and we were excited we didn’t have to
pay for this.”
Montenegro was elated—celebrating a hard-won step
toward his dream of becoming a physician-scientist. There
had been so many late nights, so much work. But now, he
had a Ph.D. in sociology and was headed to medical school
at the University of Utah.
“I felt like a king,” Montenegro wrote in an article for the
journal JAMA last year. At the end of the evening, the
couple got in line to pick up their car from the valet outside.
They were third in line when a Jaguar pulled up to the curb.
“And you see this woman get out of her car,” says
Montenegro. The woman must not have seen the valets,
though they were wearing red vests.
“She passes the first couple, she passes the second
couple, she gets to me and she hands me her keys,” says
The valets, Montenegro says, looked Latino—like him.
The woman, who wasn’t, assumed he was a valet, too. He
was so shocked he just took the keys as she dropped them
into his hand.
“I didn’t know what to say, what to do,” Montenegro
says. “But I vividly remember turning red, and I don’t often
turn red. And I remember my heart pounding. I remember
feeling really confused and hurt and angry.”
Five minutes later, still standing in line waiting for his car,
it happened again. Another person handed him their keys.
“I was at the pinnacle of my celebration, and with one
swift action, I was dismissed, he wrote in JAMA. “I was
made invisible.”

It wasn’t the first time that Montenegro had run into racist
assumptions, and it wouldn’t be the last. At various research
conferences, academics he doesn’t know have tried to order
drinks from him. In medical school and during his medical
residency, he was sometimes assumed to be a technician at
the hospital—even when wearing his white doctor’s coat.
“It makes you question yourself and makes you feel
confused and shocked,” he says. “It was a constant reminder of
feeling like I would never fit in.”
In conclusion the story of one of our branch members
plus the NPR article on social stereotyping will be thought provoking. Have we been the target of negative stereotypes?
Have we made assumptions about others? Have the
assumptions been meant in a benign way but received in a way
that caused pain? I think if we continue discussion of these
issues, perhaps with a sharing of our own experiences will be
the beginning of a dialogue to help us toward a better and
more culturally competent future.
for the Diversity Committee

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Heroes We Know and Do Not Know

Looking back at Black History Month in
February, I will include the story of one of the
greats in our nation’s history. Looking forward
to March, National Social Work Month, I will
include the story of someone you may not have heard of. She
is great as well. Greatness exists in the famous and those who
work tirelessly, and are often not fully recognized, to improve
our world. Here are two stories of greatness.

From Wikipedia: Creola Katherine Johnson (née Coleman; August
26, 1918 – February 24, 2020) was an American mathematician
whose calculations of orbital mechanics as a
NASA employee were critical to the success
of the first and subsequent US-crewed
spaceflights. During her 35-year career at
NASA and its predecessor NACA, she earned
a reputation for mastering complex manual
calculations and helped pioneer the use of
computers to perform the tasks. The space agency noted her
“historical role as one of the first African American women to work
as a NASA scientist”.
Johnson’s work included calculating trajectories, launch windows,
and emergency return paths for Project Mercury spaceflights,
including those for astronauts Alan Shepard, the first American in
space, and John Glenn, the first American in orbit, and rendezvous
paths for the Apollo Lunar Module and command module on flights
to the Moon. Her calculations were also essential to the beginning
of the Space Shuttle program, and she worked on plans for a mission
to Mars.
In 2015, President Barack Obama awarded Johnson the
Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2016, she was presented the
Silver Snoopy Award by NASA astronaut Leland D. Melvin and a
NASA Group Achievement Award. She was portrayed by Taraji P.
Henson as a lead character in the 2016 film Hidden Figures. In 2019,
Johnson was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
Katherine Johnson was born as Creola Katherine Coleman on
August 26, 1918, in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. She was
the youngest of four children. Her mother was a teacher and her
father was a lumberman, farmer, handyman, and worked at the
Greenbrier Hotel.
Johnson showed strong mathematical abilities from an early age.
Because Greenbrier County did not offer schooling for African
American children past the eighth grade, the Colemans arranged for
their children to attend high school in Institute, West Virginia. This
school was on the campus of West Virginia State College (WVSC).
Johnson was enrolled when she was ten years old. The family split
their time between Institute during the school year and White
Sulphur Springs in the summer.
After graduating from high school at 14, Johnson enrolled at West
Virginia State, a historically black college. As a student, she took
every math course offered by the college. Many professors
mentored her. She graduated summa cum laude in 1937 at age 18,
with degrees in mathematics and French. She took a teaching job at
a black public school in Marion, Virginia.

In 1939, after marrying her first husband, James Goble, she left
her teaching job and enrolled in a graduate math program. She
quit one year later after becoming pregnant and chose to focus on
her family life. She was the first African American woman to attend
graduate school at West Virginia University in Morgantown, West
Virginia. Through WVSC’s president, Dr. John W. Davis, she became
one of three African American students, and the only woman,
selected to integrate the graduate school after the 1938 United
States Supreme Court ruling Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada. The
court ruled that states that provided public higher education to
white students also had to provide it to Black students, to be
satisfied either by establishing Black colleges and universities or by
admitting Black students to previously white-only universities.
Johnson decided on a career as a research mathematician,
although this was a difficult field for African Americans and women
to enter. The first jobs she found were in teaching. At a family
gathering in 1952, a relative mentioned that the National Advisory
Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) was hiring mathematicians. At
the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory, NACA hired African
American mathematicians as well as whites for their Guidance and
Navigation Department. Johnson accepted a job offer from the
agency in June 1953.
At first Johnson worked in a pool of women performing math
calculations. She has referred to the women in the pool as virtual
“computers who wore skirts.” Their main job was to read the data
from the black boxes of planes and carry out other precise
mathematical tasks. Then one day, she (and a colleague) were
temporarily assigned to help the all-male flight research team. Her
knowledge of analytic geometry helped make quick allies of male
bosses and colleagues to the extent that, “they forgot to return me
to the pool.” While the racial and gender barriers were always
there, she says she ignored them. She was assertive, asking to be
included in editorial meetings (where no women had gone before).
She simply told people she had done the work and that she
NACA disbanded the colored computing pool in 1958 when the
agency was superseded by NASA, which adopted digital
computers. Although the installation was desegregated, forms of
discrimination were still pervasive. Johnson recalled that era: “We
needed to be assertive as women in those days–assertive and
aggressive–and the degree to which we had to in the new
In 1961, her work helped to ensure that Alan Shepard’s
Freedom 7 Mercury capsule would be found quickly after landing,
using the accurate trajectory that had been established.
From 1958 until her retirement in 1986, Johnson worked as an

aerospace technologist, moving during her career to the Spacecraft
Controls Branch. She calculated the trajectory for the May 5, 1961
space flight of Alan Shepard, the first American in space. She also
calculated the launch window for his 1961 Mercury mission.

Sheplotted backup navigation charts for astronauts in case of electronic
failures. When NASA used electronic computers for the first time to
calculate John Glenn’s orbit around Earth, officials called on Johnson
to verify the computer’s numbers; Glenn had asked for her specifically
and had refused to fly unless Johnson verified the calculations. Author
Margot Lee Shetterly stated, “So the astronaut who became a hero,
looked to this Black woman in the still-segregated South at the time as
one of the key parts of making sure his mission would be a success.”
Johnson later worked directly with digital computers. Her ability
and reputation for accuracy helped to establish confidence quickly
after landing, using the accurate trajectory that had been established.
She also helped to calculate the trajectory for the 1969 Apollo 11
flight to the Moon. In 1970, Johnson worked on the Apollo 13 Moon
mission. When the mission was aborted, her work on backup
procedures and charts helped set a safe path for the crew’s return to
Earth, creating a one-star observation system that would allow
astronauts to determine their location with accuracy. Later in her
career, Johnson worked on the Space Shuttle program, the Earth
Resources Satellite, and on plans for a mission to Mars.
Johnson spent her later years encouraging students to enter the
fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Meet Ohio’s 2020 “School Social Worker of the Year” –By Micaela
Marshall, Cleveland (Spectrum)

BEDFORD, Ohio — COVID-19 has presented new challenges for
families and students. Increased mental health issues and job loss
have made basic needs unattainable for some. Because of this, school
social workers may be more vital now than ever amid the pandemic.
One of them is Bedford City School District’s Faith Gordon, who is the
2020 “Ohio School Social Worker of the Year.”
She pulls from her own life experiences in order to connect to
families going through hard times.
Gordon is one of the first social workers in the Bedford City School
District. “I think that question will be spot on to say who can help
them get over that hurdle,” she said while planning a social/emotional
lesson with an 8th grade school counselor. Planning lessons with
school counselors is just one part of the job description. She does
home visits, too.
“We all fail at some point. It’s what we do. How do we get back up?
How do we keep going? How do we get over those challenges?”
explained Gordon.
Helping teens is her passion, and social work is her calling. She’s
been in this line of work for 13 years.
A team of school social workers and mental health therapists were
hired in the district last year. This is the second year Gordon has
worked with students in both the middle and high school. “I can touch
every student life,” she said.
In-person learning started back up February 1 in Bedford, and
Gordon said her favorite part of the day is saying hello in the hallway.
“I miss you,” Gordon said to a student. “I miss you, too,” they replied.
Helping families in need comes naturally because she’s been there.
Gordon was a teen mom. Her daughter was a teen mom. Her twin
sons have learning disabilities, and her oldest son passed away after
years of mental health and behavioral issues. “I’ve walked in your

shoes. I’m not just saying it because a book or because of
something someone told me. I’ve actually lived those
experiences,” she said.
Her journey to social work actually began when she was a
hair stylist and salon owner. While sitting in the chair, younger
clients would open up to her about problems in school. She felt
compelled to help, and she went back to college to earn her
master’s degree “to actually prevent drop out, to try to help
those that were becoming homeless, to try to provide more
understanding of mental health and what it looks like in the
classroom,” said Gordon.
Gordon earned the “Ohio School Social Worker of the Year”
award in 2020. She credits the honor to programs she rolled
ou t that led to a decrease in expulsions and suspensions by

addressing the root causes of why kids act out. “It really helped
me to know that, ‘Hey keep going. You’re doing something
great. You’re helping someone,’” she said.
A new community resource room just opened up for families
who may need extra help in the Bedford City School District.
Gordon is one of the school social workers who oversee the
room. The community resource room is actually two rooms,
and inside, you’ll find free clothes, coats, shoes, school supplies,
hygiene products, food, and even a washer and dryer. The
room was made possible through CARES Act funding and
community donations from organizations including the National
Council of Jewish Women. Currently, these community
resource rooms are open by appointment only from 9 a.m. to 3
p.m. on Wednesdays to district families. The hope is to soon be
able to expand the services so that all of the resources can be
available to the entire community.
In conclusion, let us look back at history to understand
and honor the greats but also look forward and look for
greatness and those who work so hard in our
communities, in our neighborhoods, and schools and
meeting places. There are many forms of greatness but
for a society to thrive we must honor those who serve in
the front lines to support those who have been
marginalized and in the trenches where we all must work
to remedy the inequities of the past.
for the Diversity Committee

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This Is a Hill We All Must Climb Toward Just and Honorable Society—

I will share with you that I approached the
inauguration of our president Joseph R. Biden
with excitement, but fear as well. The horror of the seditious
assault on our nation’s Capitol January 6, 2021 was fresh in
my mind. It’s a sign of our times that my daughter, out of
kindness, said she would watch for me and text me when it
was “safe“ to watch. I got ready to be sure to see the
swearing in ceremony. I missed it by 15 minutes and some
said it was moved forward out of security concerns.
What a world we live in! A divisive political campaign, gut
wrenching attacks on our democracy, all caused me to hope
for a ray of light. What I experienced was not only a ray of
light but a beam of hope. There was something so strong,
though fresh and pure that it raised my spirits in a way I
never expected. I am speaking of the poetry of the poet
laureate of the inauguration, Amanda Gorman, who some
said “stole the show.”
Amanda Gorman, speaking, almost singing her poem “The
Hill We Climb“ awakens my hope for a better tomorrow. Here
was a young woman with great insight, intelligence and
creative talent inspiring us all. I would like to share with you
her story. Her youth gave me hope for the future. Rather
than looking backward at the great leaders of the past I can
now look forward to a wonderful leader of the future. Here is
part of the story of Amanda Gorman, The following
information is from Wikipedia:
Amanda S. C. Gorman (born in Los
Angeles, CA in 1998) is an American poet
and activist. Her work focuses on issues of
oppression, feminism, race, and
marginalization, as well as the African
diaspora. Gorman was the first person to
be named National Youth Poet Laureate.
She published the poetry book The One for Whom Food Is Not
Enough in 2015. In 2021, she delivered her poem, The Hill We
Climb at the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden. Her
inauguration poem generated international acclaim,
stimulated her two books to reach best-seller status, and
earned her a professional management contract.
Gorman and her two siblings were raised by her single
mother, Joan Wicks, a 6th-grade English teacher in Watts. She
has a twin sister, Gabrielle, who is an activist and filmmaker.
Gorman has said she grew up in an environment with limited
television access. She has described her young self as a
“weird child” who enjoyed reading and writing and was
encouraged by her mother.
Gorman has an auditory processing disorder and is

hypersensitive to sound. She also had a speech impediment
during childhood. Gorman participated in speech therapy
during her childhood and Elida Kocharian of The Harvard
Crimson wrote in 2018, “Gorman doesn’t view her speech
impediment as a crutch—rather, she sees it as a gift and a
strength.” Gorman told The Harvard Gazette in 2018, “I
always saw it as a strength. I was experiencing these
obstacles in terms of my auditory and vocal skills, so I
became really good at reading and writing. I realized that at
a young age when I was reciting the Marianne Deborah
Williamson quote that ‘Our deepest fear is not that we are
inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful
beyond measure’ to my mom
Gorman attended New Roads, a private school in Santa
Monica, for grades K–12. As a senior, she received a Milken
Family Foundation college scholarship. She studied
sociology at Harvard College, graduating cum laude in 2020
as a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
Career—Gorman’s art and activism focuses on issues of
oppression, feminism, race, and marginalization, as well as
the African diaspora. She has said she was inspired to
become a youth delegate for the United Nations in 2013
after watching a speech by Pakistani Nobel Prize laureate
Malala Yousafzai. Gorman was chosen as the youth poet
laureate of Los Angeles in 2014. In 2014 it was reported that
Gorman was “editing the first draft of a novel she has been
writing over the last two years.” She published the poetry
book The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough in 2015.
In 2016, Gorman founded the nonprofit organization One
Pen One Page, a youth writing and leadership program. In
2017, she became the first author to be featured on XQ
Institute’s Book of the Month, a monthly giveaway to share
inspiring Gen Z’s favorite books. She wrote a tribute for
Black athletes for Nike and she has a contract with Viking
Children’s Books to write two children’s picture books.
In 2017, Gorman became the first youth poet to open the
literary season for the Library of Congress, and she has read
her poetry on MTV.
While at Harvard, Gorman became the first person to be
named National Youth Poet Laureate in April 2017.
In 2017, Gorman won a $10,000 grant from media company

OZY in the annual OZY Genius Awards through which
10 college students are given “the opportunity to pursue their
outstanding ideas and envisioned innovations.”
In 2017, Gorman said she intends to run for president in
2036, and she has subsequently often repeated this hope. On
being selected as one of Glamour magazine’s 2018 College
Women of the Year, she said: “Seeing the ways that I as a
young black woman can inspire people is something I want to
continue in politics. I don’t want to just speak words; I want to
turn them into realities and actions. After she read her poem
The Hill We Climb at President Joe Biden’s inauguration in
2021, Hillary Clinton tweeted her support for Gorman’s 2036
2021 Presidential Inauguration—Gorman read her poem
The Hill We Climb at the inauguration of Joe Biden on January
20, 2021, and is the youngest poet in United States history to
read at a presidential inauguration. Jill Biden recommended
her for the inauguration. After January 6, 2021, Gorman
amended her poem’s wording to address the storming of the
United States Capitol. During the week before the
inauguration, she told Washington Post book critic Ron
Charles, “My hope is that my poem will represent a moment of
unity for our country” and “with my words, I’ll be able to speak
to a new chapter and era for our nation.”
Soon after Gorman’s performance at the inauguration, her
two upcoming books, the poetry collection The Hill We Climb
and a project for youth, Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem,
were at the top of Amazon’s bestseller list. Both are scheduled
to be released in September 2021. A book version of the poem
“The Hill We Climb” is scheduled to be released on March 16,
2021, with a foreword by Oprah Winfrey, and each of
Gorman’s three upcoming books will have first printings of one
million copies.
IMG Models and its parent company WME signed Gorman
for representation in fashion, beauty, and talent
In conclusion, We can say that there are “hills” we all must
climb. We must overcome explicit and implicit racism, we must
overcome a lack of empathy and caring, and we must climb a
hill toward peace, justice and equity. It is a daunting task but
we can do it. We have the strength, we have the capacity, we
have the responsibility. Amanda Gorman sharing her poem as
poet laureate at our presidential inauguration gave such hope
and such a positive vision of the future. We have not only the
responsibility but the capacity to change and climb the “hill” to
a more just, peaceful and equitable society.
for the Diversity Committee

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Learning about Ohio Representative Marcia Fudge

On December 10, 2020 president elect
Joseph Biden announced that he was
nominating Ohio Representative Marcia Fudge
to serve as his Secretary of Housing and
Urban Development. Marcia Fudge is a
member of the House Agriculture
Committee and Committee on Education
and Labor. She is a former chair of he
Congressional Black Caucus. She has been
recently elected to her seventh term in
Congress, representing the Cleveland
area.” (from an ABC News post December
19, 2020)
Representative Fudge is a well-known name in the
Cleveland area. It would be enriching to learn more about
her. Included here is an excerpt from a Wikipedia article
describing the Representative’s background and
achievements. I hope you will find this information valuable.

Marcia Louise Fudge (born October 29, 1952) is an
American politician who has been the U.S. Representative for
Ohio’s 11th congressional district since 2008. A member of
the Democratic Party, she won the 2008 special election
uncontested, succeeding Stephanie Tubbs Jones who died in
office. Fudge was chair of the Congressional Black Caucus in
the 113th Congress. President-elect Joe Biden has nominated
Fudge as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the
incoming Biden administration.
Fudge was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on October 29, 1952. A
1971 graduate of Shaker Heights High School, she earned her
Bachelor of Science in business from Ohio State University in

1983, she earned a Juris Doctor from Cleveland State
University Cleveland–Marshall College of Law.
Immediately after college, she worked as a law clerk and
conducted legal research. She also worked in the Cuyahoga
County prosecutor’s office as Director of Budget and Finance.
Fudge has also worked as an auditor for the county’s estate
tax department and has occasionally served as a visiting
judge and as a chief referee for arbitration.
Fudge was the mayor of Warrensville Heights, Ohio from
January 2000 until November 18, 2008. Her 1999 campaign
was her first run for any elected office. She was the town’s
first female and first African American to hold the mayorship.
Fudge served as chief of staff to U.S. Representative
Stephanie Tubbs Jones during Jones’s first term in Congress.
She has also served on the board of trustees for the
Cleveland Public Library.
After the death of Stephanie Tubbs Jones on August 20,
2008, Fudge was selected as her replacement on the

November ballot by a committee of local Democratic
leaders. This virtually assured her of election in this heavily
Democratic, Black-majority district. Fudge won the
November 4 general election, defeating Republican Thomas
Pekarek with 85 percent of the vote. She was unopposed in
a November 18 special election for the balance of Jones’
fifth term and won with less than 9,000 votes cast. She was
sworn in on November 19, 2008, giving her almost two
months’ more seniority than the rest of the 2008 House
freshman class.
Following the 2018 midterms, Fudge considered running
for Speaker of the House during the 2019 election. She later
abandoned the bid and supported Nancy Pelosi.
Following the 2020 United States presidential election,
Fudge and allies including Representative Jim Clyburn
argued that she should be appointed as Secretary of
Agriculture in the Biden administration. President-elect Joe
Biden eventually selected Tom Vilsack as his agriculture
secretary; he chose Fudge as Secretary of Housing and
Urban Development.
During a presentation at the Congressional Black Caucus
Foundation’s 44th Annual Legislative Conference in
September 2014, Fudge said that the CBC would mobilize
African American voters in the 2014 midterm elections by
underscoring Republican attacks on President Obama, such
as claims that he was not born in the United States.
Fudge is a past president of Delta Sigma Theta sorority,
serving from 1996 to 2000, and is a co-chair of the sorority’s
National Social Action Commission. In 2003, she was a
member of the Shaker Heights Alumni Association’s Hall of
Fame Class.
Fudge has been a member of the Glenville Church of God
and is now a member of Zion Chapel Baptist Church.

In conclusion I hope you, as I did, have learned more
about Representative Fudge. As Clevelanders and as
women we can be proud of her as she has served to
represent Ohio and now goes on to serve the nation in
her new and important position.
Fondly submitted
for the Diversity Committee

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Learning About Kamala Devi Harris

As the holidays approach and we envision a
time of peace, love and caring I hope you, your
families and friends are well, safe and in a
peaceful place in your own lives. I hope the
division that marked our political scene has
become a thing of the past. I hope
we have entered a time of healing and

With this in mind let us read
the story of Kamala Harris. She is noteworthy
as the first female vice president and the first
woman of color in that role. She is notable in
many other ways. I have included here an
excerpt from Wikipedia that tells her story.
I’m sure we will learn a great deal more as
she takes her place in national government.
From Wikipedia—

Kamala Devi Harris (/ˈkɑːmələ/ KAH-mə-lə; born October
20, 1964) is an American politician and attorney, the junior
United States senator from California, and the vice
president-elect of the United States.
A member of the Democratic Party, she will become vice
president on January 20, 2021, alongside President-elect
Joe Biden, having defeated incumbent president Donald
Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in the 2020 election.
She will be the United States’ first female vice president, the
highest-ranking female elected official in US history, and the
first Asian American and first African American vice
Born in Oakland, California, Harris graduated from
Howard University and the University of California, Hastings
College of the Law. She began her career in the Alameda
County District Attorney’s Office, before being recruited to
the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and later the City
Attorney of San Francisco’s office. In 2003, she was elected
district attorney of San Francisco. She was elected Attorney
General of California in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. Harris
has served as the junior United States senator from
California since 2017.
Harris’ mother, Shyamala Gopalan, a biologist whose
work on the progesterone receptor gene stimulated
advances in breast cancer research, had arrived in the US
from Tamil Nadu in India in 1958 as a 19-year-old graduate
student in nutrition and endocrinology at the University of
California, Berkeley; Gopalan received her PhD in 1964. Her
father, Donald J. Harris, is a Stanford University professor
emeritus of economics, who arrived in the US from British
Jamaica in 1961 for graduate study at UC Berkeley, receiving
a PhD in economics in 1966. Along with her younger sister,
Maya, Harris lived in Berkeley, California, briefly on Milvia
Street in central Berkeley, then a duplex on Bancroft with a

significant Black population.
Her parents divorced when she was seven. Harris has said
that when she and her sister visited their father in Palo Alto
on weekends, other children in the neighborhood were not
allowed to play with them because they were Black. When
she was twelve, Harris and her sister moved with their
mother to Montreal, Quebec, Canada, where Shyamala had
accepted a research and teaching position at the McGill
University-affiliated Jewish General Hospital. She attended a
French-speaking primary school, Notre-Dame-des-Neiges,
and then Westmount High School in Westmount, Quebec,
graduating in 1981. After high school, in 1982, Harris
attended Howard University, a historically Black university in
Washington, DC While at Howard, she interned as a
mailroom clerk for California senator Alan Cranston, chaired
the economics society, led the debate team, and joined
Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. Harris graduated from Howard
in 1986 with a degree in political science and economics.
Harris then returned to California to attend law school at
the University of California, Hastings College of the Law
through its Legal Education Opportunity Program (LEOP).
While at UC Hastings, she served as president of its chapter
of the Black Law Students Association. She graduated with a
Juris Doctor in 1989 and was admitted to the California Bar
in June 1990.
In 1990, Harris was hired as a deputy district attorney in
Alameda County, California, where she was described as “an
able prosecutor on the way up.” In February 1998, San
Francisco District Attorney Terence Hallinan recruited Harris
as an assistant district attorney. There, she became the chief
of the Career Criminal Division, supervising five other
attorneys, where she prosecuted homicide, burglary,
robbery, and sexual assault cases—particularly three-strikes
In 2002, Harris prepared to run for district attorney of San
Francisco against Hallinan (the incumbent) and Bill Fazio. In
the runoff, Harris pledged never to seek the death penalty
and to prosecute three-strike offenders only in cases of
violent felonies. Harris ran a “forceful” campaign, assisted by
former mayor Willie Brown, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and
others. Harris differentiated herself from Hallinan by
attacking his performance. Harris ran unopposed for a
second term in 2007. Before Harris took office, the felony
conviction rate was 50 percent; by 2009, it was 76 percent.
Convictions of drug dealers increased from 56 percent in
2003 to 74 percent in 2006.

Harris has said life imprisonment without parole is a
better and more cost-effective punishment than the death
penalty, and has estimated that the resultant cost savings
could pay for a thousand additional police officers in San
Francisco alone.
Nearly two years before the 2010 California Attorney
General election, Harris announced she planned to run.
She also stated she would only run if then-Attorney
General Jerry Brown did seek re-election. Brown instead
chose to run for governor and Harris consolidated support
from prominent California Democrats. Both of California’s
senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and other prominent Democrat
leaders endorsed her during the Democratic primary. In
the June 8, 2010 primary, she was nominated with 33.6
percent of the vote.
In the general election, she faced Republican Los
Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley who led
most of the race. Cooley ran as a nonpartisan, distancing
himself from Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg
Whitman’s campaign. The election was held November 2
but after a protracted period of counting mail-in and
provisional ballots, Cooley conceded on November 25.
Harris was sworn in on January 3, 2011; she is the first
woman, the first African American, and the first South
Asian American to hold the office of Attorney General in
the state’s history.
In November 2013, Harris launched the California
Department of Justice’s Division of Recidivism Reduction
and Re-Entry in partnership with district attorney offices in
San Diego, Los Angeles, and Alameda County. In March
2015, Harris announced the creation of a pilot program in
coordination with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s
Department called “Back on Track LA”. Like Back on Track,
first time, nonviolent offenders between 18 and 30
individuals participated in the pilot program for 24–30
months. Assigned a case manager, participants received
education through a partnership with the Los Angeles
Community College District and job training services.
In February 2016, Harris won 78% of the California
Democratic Party vote for the US Senate at the party
convention. Three months later, Governor Jerry Brown
endorsed her. In the June 7 primary, Harris came in first
with forty percent of the vote and won with pluralities in
most counties.
In the November 2016 election, Harris defeated
Sanchez, capturing over sixty percent of the vote, carrying
all but four counties. Following her victory, she promised
to protect immigrants from the policies of President-elect
Donald Trump and announced her intention to remain
Attorney General through the end of 2016.
Upon her election as Vice President of the United
States, Harris is expected to resign from her seat prior to
taking office on January 20, 2021.

In conclusion Let us look forward to the holiday season
as one that brings love, joy, health, safety and
Fondly submitted
for the Diversity Committee

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Remembering Shirley Chisholm

In these tumultuous times sometimes it is a
comfort to look back at leaders of the past who
weathered difficult times with intelligence,
strength and grace. One of those leaders was
Shirley Chisholm. Her life was far from trouble
free but she strove to achieve and succeeded. She strove to
represent and did it well. Following is a brief summary of
her life and times. When we wonder what the role models
of today are, perhaps we can also look back in time to some
of the greats such as Shirley Chisholm whose leadership was
From Wikipedia:
“Shirley Anita Chisholm (née St. Hill; November 30, 1924
January 1, 2005) was an American politician,
educator, and author. In 1968, she became the
first African American woman elected to the
United States Congress, representing New
York’s 12th congressional district for seven
terms from 1969 to 1983. In the 1972 United
States presidential election, she became the
first African American candidate for a major party’s
nomination for president of the United States, and the first
woman to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential
Born in Brooklyn, Chisholm studied and worked in early
childhood education, becoming involved in local Democratic
party politics in the 1950s. In 1964, overcoming some
resistance because she was a woman, she was elected to
the New York State Assembly. Four years later she was
elected to Congress, where she led expansion of food and
nutrition programs for the poor and rose to party
leadership. She retired from Congress in 1983 and taught at
Mt Holyoke College, while continuing her political
organizing. Although nominated for an ambassadorship in
1993, health issues caused her to withdraw. In 2015,
Chisholm was posthumously awarded the Presidential
Medal of Freedom.
Chisholm entered the world of politics in 1953 when she
joined Wesley “Mac” Holder’s effort to elect Lewis Flagg Jr.
to the bench as the first black judge in Brooklyn. The Flagg
election group later transformed into the BedfordStuyvesant Political League (BSPL). The BSPL pushed
candidates to support civil rights, fought against racial
discrimination in housing, and sought to improve economic
opportunities and services in Brooklyn. Chisholm eventually
left the group around 1958 after clashing with Holder over
Chisholm’s push to give female members of the group more
input in decision making.
She also worked as a volunteer for white-dominated
political clubs in Brooklyn, like the Brooklyn Democratic

Clubs and the League of Women Voters. Furthermore, within
the political organizations she joined, Chisholm sought to
make meaningful changes to the structure and make-up of
the organizations, specifically the Brooklyn Democratic
Clubs, which resulted in her being able to recruit more
people of color into the 17th District Club and, thus, local
In 1960,Chisholm joined a new organization, the Unity
Democratic Club (UDC) led by former Elect Flagg member
Thomas R. Jones. The UDC’s membership was mostly middle
class, racially integrated, and included women in leadership
positions. Chisholm campaigned for Jones who lost the
election for an assembly seat in 1960, but ran again two
years later and won, becoming Brooklyn’s second black
After Jones chose to accept a judicial appointment rather
than run for reelection, Chisholm sought to run for his seat in
the New York state assembly in 1964. Chisholm faced
resistance based on her sex with the UDC hesitant to support
a female candidate. Chisholm chose to appeal directly to
women voters, including using her role as Brooklyn branch
president of Key Women of America to mobilize female
voters. Chisholm won the Democratic primary in June 1964.
She then won the seat in December with over 18,000 votes
over Republican and Liberal party candidates, neither of
which received more than 1,900 votes.
Chisholm was a member of the New York State Assembly
from 1965 to 1968, sitting in the 175th, 176th and 177th
New York State Legislatures. By May 1965 she had already
been honored in a “Salute to Women Doers” affair in New
York. One of her early activities in the Assembly was to argue
against the state’s literacy test requiring English, holding
that just because a person “functions better in his native
language is no sign a person is illiterate”. By early 1966 she
was a leader in a push by the statewide Council of Elected
Negro Democrats for black representation on key
committees in the Assembly.
Her successes in the legislature included getting
unemployment benefits extended to domestic workers. She
also sponsored the introduction of a SEEK program (Search
for Education, Elevation and Knowledge) to the state, which
provided disadvantaged students the chance to enter college
while receiving intensive remedial education.
In August 1968, she was elected as the Democratic
National Committeewoman from New York State.

In 1968 she ran for the US House of Representatives from
New York’s 12th congressional district, which as part of a
court-mandated reapportionment plan had been significantly
redrawn to focus on Bedford-Stuyvesant and was thus
expected to result in Brooklyn’s first black member of
Congress. (Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. had, in 1945, become
the first black member of Congress from New York City as a
whole.) As a result of the redrawing, the white incumbent in
the former 12th, Representative Edna F. Kelly, sought reelection in a different district. Chisholm announced her
candidacy around January 1968 and established some early
organizational support. Her campaign slogan was “Unbought
and unbossed.” In the June 18, 1968, Democratic primary,
Chisholm defeated two other black opponents, State Senator
William S. Thompson and labor official Dollie Robertson. In
the general election, she staged an upset victory over James
Farmer, the former director of the Congress of Racial Equality
who was running as a Liberal Party candidate with
Republican support, winning by an approximately two-to-one
margin. Chisholm thereby became the first black woman
elected to Congress, and was the only woman in the
freshman class that year.
Chisholm joined the Congressional Black Caucus in 1971
as one of its founding members. In the same year, she was
also a founding member of the National Women’s Political
In May 1971 she, along with fellow New York
Congresswoman Bella Abzug, introduced a bill to provide $10
billion in federal funds for child care services by 1975. A less
expensive version introduced by Senator Walter Mondale
eventually passed the House and Senate as the
Comprehensive Child Development Bill, but was vetoed by
President Richard Nixon in December 1971, who said it was
too expensive and would undermine the institution of the
Chisholm began exploring her candidacy in July 1971, and
formally announced her presidential bid on January 25, 1972,
in a Baptist church in her district in Brooklyn. There she called
for a “bloodless revolution” at the forthcoming Democratic
nomination convention. Chisholm became the first black
major-party candidate to run for president of the United
States, in the 1972 US presidential election, making her also
the first woman ever to run for the Democratic Party’s
presidential nomination (US Senator Margaret Chase Smith
had previously run for the Republican presidential
nomination in 1964.) In her presidential announcement,
Chisholm described herself as representative of the people
and offered a new articulation of American identity: “I am
not the candidate of black America, although I am black and
proud. I am not the candidate of the women’s movement of
this country, although I am a woman and equally proud of
that. I am the candidate of the people and my presence
before you symbolizes a new era in American political history.

Her campaign was underfunded, only spending
$300,000 in total. She also struggled to be regarded as a
serious candidate instead of as a symbolic political figure;
she was ignored by much of the Democratic political
establishment and received little support from her black
male colleagues. She later said, “When I ran for the
Congress, when I ran for president, I met more
discrimination as a woman than for being black.
Chisholm skipped the initial March 7 New Hampshire
contest, instead focusing on the March 14 Florida primary,
which she thought would be receptive due to its “blacks,
youth, and a strong women’s movement”. But due to
organizational difficulties and Congressional
responsibilities, she only made two campaign trips there
and ended with 3.5 percent of the vote for a seventhplace finish. Chisholm had difficulties gaining ballot access,
but campaigned or received votes in primaries in fourteen
states. Her largest number of votes came in the June 6
California primary, where she received 157,435 votes for
4.4 percent and a fourth-place finish, while her best
percentage in a competitive primary came in the May 6
North Carolina one, where she got 7.5 percent for a thirdplace finish. Overall, she won 28 delegates during the
primaries process itself.
At the 1972 Democratic National Convention in Miami
Beach, Florida, there were still efforts taking place by the
campaign of former Vice President Hubert Humphrey to
stop the nomination of Senator George McGovern. After
that failed and McGovern’s nomination was assured, as a
symbolic gesture, Humphrey released his black delegates
to Chisholm. This, combined with defections from
disenchanted delegates from other candidates, as well as
the delegates she had won in the primaries, gave her a
total of 152 first-ballot votes for the nomination during
the July 12 roll call. “

In conclusion let us look back at Shirley Chisholm’s life
and greatness. Let it be a guide to us in showing that
leadership can be restrained but strong. That strength and
honor can be combined with grace, that dignity and
human worth can be expressed in behavior as well as in

Wishing all a joyous holiday season
the Diversity Committee

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We Mourn Breonna Taylor

Our diversity column over the years has
tried to highlight the achievements of great
women from many walks of life and many
backgrounds. There has been an understandable
focus on the high achievers, the role models to all
of us. With AAUW‘s focus on equity for women
and girls we have always wanted to speak of those who have
shown exceptional achievement, often in the face of great
adversity or challenge.
This month I am taking a different tack. I’ll be talking
about someone who could be your neighbor, the girl nextdoor. AAUW supports the achievement of women from every
socio- economic and cultural background. Breonna Taylor was
trying to achieve the American dream. Trained as an EMT, she
moved on to be a hospital emergency room technician. Her
dream was to be a nurse. She was living in an apartment with
her sister.
Breonna died during the serving
of a no-knock warrant at her apartment
on March 13 of this year. The warrant was
issued because it was thought that drugs
and or cash, associated with drug dealing,
would be found. No drugs and/or cash
were found. Briefly, after Breonna and
her boyfriend had fallen asleep watching a movie, the warrant
was served. When police broke down her door, her boyfriend
fired a single shot, thinking there was a home invasion in
progress. An officer was hit. Breonna was killed in the officers’
return fire. The complete story can be found in many
newspaper articles and in a Wikipedia article.
I will not fill this column with the full tragic story.
What I want to do is emphasize the fact that people walk
different roads in life. In the commentaries after Breonna
Taylor’s tragic death there were those who wanted to blame
her for having an ex-boyfriend who had been alleged to be
involved in drug trafficking. Though Breonna and her current
boyfriend had no criminal history, no drug involvement people
sought to condemn her because of the alleged behavior of an
ex-boyfriend. Protests irrupted in Louisville, Kentucky when the
full story was learned.
Her current boyfriend carried a gun legally. All charges
against him were dropped though an officer was wounded as
he attempted to defend the couple in the face of what they felt
was a violent home invasion.
The family of Breonna Taylor was awarded 12 million
dollars by the City of Louisville, KY. The city of Louisville agreed
to institute changes to help prevent future deaths of this sort.
Later a grand jury met and protests again erupted when
criminal charges against the officers involved were seen as
falling short of what some in the community thought was just.

The above summary in no way is meant to totally
describe the tragedy of Breonna Taylor’s death. It’s meant
to make us think about the different lives lived by women
who are trying to improve themselves, get on with their life
and succeed. It is meant to help us think about different
challenges women face. Women can be endangered by the
decisions of ex-boyfriends. Some communities are more
likely to be impacted by no knock warrants. Can you
imagine such a warrant being served on your home or the
home of someone you love?
In sum, we mourn Breonna Taylor. We mourn a
world in which women are endangered by the acts of ex-boyfriends, ex-spouses and family members. This story is
meant to help us think through the lives of others. Could
this be our child? Could this be someone we know and care
about? Let us care about Breonna and everyone who is ever
endangered in the way she was: by association. Let us feel
for the pain of her family and the terror Breonna must have
felt in the moments before her death. Let us have empathy
for those like all of us. Let us have empathy for all human
Fondly submitted for the Diversity Committee, Be safe and well.

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Are We Being Tested as to How We Care for One Another?

Images of suffering swirl all around us
Shootings, protests, shootings yet again.
Accusations and counter accusations without end.
I was talking to someone recently who said, essentially, “I get it”.
“Of course there’s racism but why do ‘they’ keep having to
protest…I already got it”.
I was caught off guard. Until systemic racism and bigotry
have ceased there is no time to say “I have gotten it.” Everyone
must get the message and act to ameliorate the wrongs.
Clearly until you have walked a mile in someone else’s shoes
and experienced racism directly, you cannot have truly “gotten
Please read with me the following posted by James Milson
on his writing and creativity blog, about a poem that generated the phrase
we are familiar with “walk a mile in another’s shoes.”

“Walk a Milestone in His Moccasins”—by Mary T.
The name of this heartfelt poem by Mary Torrans Lathrap
(1838-1895) was originally titled “Judge Softly” when written in
1895, and has later come to be known by its most famous and
quoted line—“Walk a Mile in His Moccasins.”
Mary T. Lathrap was also known at the time as the “The
Daniel Webster of Prohibition”. She was an American poet, a
licensed preacher in the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1871, a
temperance reformer, and a suffragist, co-founding Michigan’s
suffrage organization in 1870. For 20 years, she was identified
with the progressive women of Michigan who had temperance,
purity, and prohibition as their watchwords, and the white
ribbon as their badge.
The “Walk a Mile in His Moccasins” line was quoted by my
mother to me over and over growing up and has been
attributed to various Native American tribes over the years, but
actually comes from this poem by Mary Lathrap. Whether she
was inspired by a direct Native American contact or not I have
yet to find. Nevertheless, it reads as heavily influenced by the
conditions of Native Americans both on and off the Indian
Reservations at the time and still resounds meaningfully for us
This piece always brings to mind another of my mother’s
admonitions, one of the more quoted passages of the Bible.
From Matthew 7:1-2, in her words—“Judge not, lest ye be
judged. Why do you see the splinter in your brother’s eye, but
do not notice the log in your own eye?” For me, there has
always been a two-fold meaning to Jesus’ cautionary words
which follow. One, since no one can be expected to live up to a
standard of perfection, no one should ever engage in judging others,

since we are all imperfect and will be held to the
same perfect standards we apply to others. Or the second
interpretation, that we should set our own house in order
before exercising judgment and helping others to do the
Confusion over the title aside then, it is not the title of
this poem which is significant in the end, but rather the
meaning and true message of the words of compassion,
kindness, empathy, and understanding still so relevant and
needed in our world today, over a hundred years after it
was written.
“Judge Softly”
“Pray, don’t find fault with the man that limps,
Or stumbles along the road.
Unless you have worn the moccasins he wears,
Or stumbled beneath the same load.
There may be tears in his soles that hurt
Though hidden away from view.
The burden he bears placed on your back
May cause you to stumble and fall, too.
Don’t sneer at the man who is down today
Unless you have felt the same blow
That caused his fall or felt the shame
That only the fallen know.
You may be strong, but still the blows
That were his, unknown to you in the same way,
May cause you to stagger and fall, too.
Don’t be too harsh with the man that sins.
Or pelt him with words, or stone, or disdain.
Unless you are sure you have no sins of your own,
And it’s only wisdom and love that your heart contains.
For you know if the tempter’s voice
Should whisper as soft to you,
As it did to him when he went astray,
It might cause you to falter, too.
Just walk a mile in his moccasins
Before you abuse, criticize and accuse.
If just for one hour, you could find a way
To see through his eyes, instead of your own muse

I believe you’d be surprised to see
That you’ve been blind and narrow-minded, even unkind.
There are people on reservations and in the ghettos

Who have so little hope, and too much worry on their
Brother, there but for the grace of God go you and I.
Just for a moment, slip into his mind and traditions
And see the world through his spirit and eyes
Before you cast a stone or falsely judge his conditions.
Remember to walk a mile in his moccasins
And remember the lessons of humanity taught to you by
your elders.
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave
In other people’s lives, our kindnesses and generosity.
Take the time to walk a mile in his moccasins.”
~ by Mary T. Lathrap, 1895
As we go through life together, be a “Good Finder”,
actively looking for and seeking out the best qualities in
others, and not a “Fault Finder.” If we search for the divine
spark embedded within each of us and in every creation, we
are much more likely to find the perfection inside and not be
misled by the outward appearance of the host container.”

Article by James Milson in his writing and creativity blog

This is the first o a series of AAUW Diversity articled whose goal is to
increase understanding and empathy. It is not one-sided as
we all can work to understand where each of us is “coming
from.” Until we have a sense of this, we may be doomed to
repeat the cycle of judgment and hate that we see
increasing today.

Fondly, Submitted
for the Diversity Committee

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Taking a Closer Look at the Racial Disparities in the Rate of COVID-19 Infection and Death

— I have always tried to keep our diversity column positive and focus on achievements and challenges in minority communities. I know I will return to this positive emphasis in the future, but now we’re in crisis. I want to share with you an article from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) which highlights something that we’ve all heard about, but perhaps, in a haphazard fashion. The news reports from time to time state that the African American community has been heavily impacted by Illness and death due to COVID-19. Now in this CDC article we see that the news may be even more concerning than we ever imagined. I want to share this article with you and also ask you to think about what we need to do to stop such a terrible and morally unacceptable tragedy.

“The effects of COVID-19 on the health of racial and ethnic minority groups is still emerging; however, current data suggest a disproportionate burden of illness and death among racial and ethnic minority groups. A recent CDC MMWR report included race and ethnicity data from 580 patients hospitalized with lab-confirmed COVID-19 found that 45% of individuals for whom race or ethnicity data was available were white, compared to 55% of individuals in the surrounding community. However, 33% of hospitalized patients were black compared to 18% in the community and 8% were Hispanic, compared to 14% in the community. These data suggest an overrepresentation of blacks among hospitalized patients. Among COVID-19 deaths for which race and ethnicity data were available, hospitalized patients. Among COVID-19 deaths for which race and ethnicity data were available, New York City identified death rates among Black/African American persons (92.3 deaths per 100,000 population) and Hispanic/Latino persons (74.3) that were substantially higher than that of white (45.2) or Asian (34.5) persons. Studies are underway to confirm these data and understand and potentially reduce the impact of COVID-19 on the health of racial and ethnic minorities. Factors that Influence Racial and Ethnic Minority Group Health: Health differences between racial and ethnic groups are often due to economic and social conditions that are more common among some racial and ethnic minorities than whites. In public health emergencies, these conditions can also isolate people from the resources they need to prepare for and respond to outbreaks. Living Conditions: For many people in racial and ethnic minority groups, living conditions may contribute to underlying health conditions and make it difficult to follow steps to prevent getting sick with COVID-19 or to seek treatment if they Diversity—Cindy Goldberg, Co-Chair do get sick. Work Circumstances: The types of work and policies in the work environments where people in some racial and ethnic groups are overrepresented can also contribute to their risk for getting sick with COVID-19. Underlying Health conditions and lower access to care: Existing health disparities, such as poorer underlying health and barriers to getting health care, might make members of many racial and ethnic minority groups especially vulnerable in public health emergencies like outbreaks of COVID-19. What Can Be Done: History shows that severe illness and death rates tend to be higher for racial and ethnic minority groups during public health emergencies. Addressing the needs of vulnerable populations in emergencies includes improving day-to-day life and harnessing the strengths of these groups. Shared faith, family, and cultural institutions are common sources of social support. These institutions can empower and encourage individuals and communities to take actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, care for those who become sick, and help community members cope with stress. For example, families, churches and other groups in affected populations can help their communities face an epidemic by consulting CDC guidance documents for their organization type. The Federal Government is undertaking the following: • Collecting data to monitor and track disparities among racial and ethnic groups in the number of COVID-19 cases, complications, and deaths to share broadly and inform decisions on how to effectively address observed disparities. These data will be translated into information to improve the clinical management of patients, allocation of resources, and targeted public health information. Supporting partnerships between scientific researchers, professional organizations, community organizations, and community members to address their need for information to prevent COVID19 in racial and ethnic minority communities. • Providing clinical guidance and guidance to support actions to slow the spread of COVID-19 in schools, workplaces and community settings, including those serving racial and ethnic minorities. Public health professionals can do the following: • Ensure that communications about COVID-19 and its impact on different population groups is frequent, clear, transparent, and credible. • Use evidence-based strategies to reduce health disparities. Those most vulnerable before an emergency are also the most vulnerable during and after an emergency. Community organizations can do the following: • Prepare community health workers in underserved racial and ethnic minority communities to educate and link people to free or low-cost services. • Help combat the spread of rumors and misinformation by providing credible information from official sources. Healthcare systems and healthcare providers can do the following: • Implement standardized protocols in accordance with CDC guidance and quality improvement initiatives, especially in facilities that serve large minority populations. • Promote a trusting relationship by encouraging patients to call and ask questions. What Individuals Can Do • Follow CDC’s Guidance for seeking medical care if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever, cough or difficulty breathing. Follow steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 if you are sick. • If you or someone you care for is at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, take steps to protect them and you from getting sick. • Take precautions to protect yourself, your community, and others. • Cope with stress to make yourself, the people you care about, and your community stronger. • Find ways to connect with your friends and family members and engage with your community while limiting face-to-face contact with others.”

     In conclusion, this article points to such a concerning social issue. It also highlights that the conditions that lead to such a tragedy are not new. As long as minority communities have unequal access to quality healthcare, live in poverty and suffer the effects of poor nutrition, crowded living conditions and crime these tragedies will repeat themselves in one way or another. Our role as caring community members is to highlight these issues and then work toward social and economic equity which will allow minority communities to thrive and not suffer disproportionately when our nation and the world are in crisis. Fondly submitted, for the Diversity Committee PS Wishing you all and those you love, health and safety as we go together to meet the unknown challenges of today and the future. Be well.

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African American Leaders in Medicine

When we think of leaders in medicine some names may immediately come to mind. Do you think of Dr. Jonas Salk? Do you think of Dr. Albert Sabin? Both were leaders in the fight against polio. Many young people today have no direct knowledge of the time that polio was the scourge impacting so many of our children with fearful rates of contagion, death and disability. These doctors were true heroes in their day. Many owe their lives to their research and creativity in creating the vaccines that largely put an end to horror which was polio. In the current COVID-19 pandemic we are waiting for new heroes to emerge. We don’t know who they will be and many will toil in relative anonymity in research labs all over the world. What we know is our stereotypes of who the hero doctors will be have no place now. Continuing this theme I would like to share with you the stories of some hero doctors you may not have heard of. Their stories are fascinating and many faced adversity which would’ve well-prepared them to the adversity we all face today. These trailblazers broke barriers and shattered stereotypes and went on to conduct research, discover treatments, and provide leadership that improved the health of millions They fought slavery, prejudice, and injustice—and changed the face of medicine in America. They invented modern blood-banking, served in the highest ranks of the U.S. government, and much more. Of course there were many black male doctors who made a difference, but we will focus on the women only this time.

1. Rebecca Lee Crumpler, MD (1831—1895) In 1864, after years as a nurse, Rebecca Lee Crumpler became the first black woman in the United States to receive an MD. She earned that distinction at the New England Female Medical College in Boston, Massachusetts—where she also was the institution’s only black graduate. After the Civil War, Crumpler moved to Richmond, Virginia, where she worked with other black doctors who were caring for formerly enslaved people in the Freedmen’s Bureau. While she faced sexism and other forms of harassment, Crumpler ultimately found the experience transformative. “I returned to my former home, Boston, where I entered into the work with renewed vigor, practicing outside, and receiving children in the house for treatment; regardless, in a measure, of remuneration,” she wrote. Crumpler also wrote A Book of Medical Discourses: In Two Parts. Published in 1883, the book addresses children’s and women’s health and is written for “mothers, nurses, and all who may desire to mitigate the afflictions of the human race.”

2. Marilyn Hughes Gaston, MD (b. 1939) In a pivotal experience while working as an intern at Philadelphia General Hospital in 1964, Marilyn Hughes Gaston, MD, admitted a baby with a swollen, infected hand. The baby suffered from sickle cell disease, which hadn’t occurred to Gaston until her supervisor suggested the possibility. Gaston quickly committed herself to learning more about it, and eventually became a leading researcher on the disease, which affects millions of people around the world. She became deputy branch chief of the Sickle Cell Disease Branch at the National Institutes of Health, and her groundbreaking 1986 study led to a national sickle cell disease screening program for newborns. Her research showed both the benefits of screening for sickle cell disease at birth and the effectiveness of penicillin to prevent infection from sepsis, which can be fatal in children with the disease. In 1990, Gaston became the first black female physician to be appointed director of the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Bureau of Primary Health Care. She was also the second black woman to serve as assistant surgeon general as well as achieve the rank of rear admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service. Gaston has been honored with every award that the Public Health Service bestows.

3. Patricia Era Bath, MD (b. 1942) Interning in New York City in the 1960s sparked a revelation for Patricia Era Bath, MD. Bath, the first African American to complete an ophthalmology residency, noticed that rates of blindness and visual impairment were much higher at the Harlem Hospital’s eye clinic, which served many black patients, than at the eye clinic at Columbia University, which mostly served whites. That observation spurred her to conduct a study that found twice the rate of blindness among African Americans compared with whites. Throughout the rest of her career, Bath explored inequities in vision care. She created the discipline of community ophthalmology, which approaches vision care from the perspectives of community medicine and public health. Bath blazed trails in other ways as well, co-founding the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness in 1976, which supports programs that protect, preserve, and restore eyesight. Bath was also the first woman appointed chair of ophthalmology at a U.S. medical school, at the University of California, Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine in 1983. And she was the first black female physician to receive a medical patent in 1988 for the Laserphaco Probe, a device used in cataract surgery.

4. Alexa Irene Canady, MD (b. 1950) Alexa Irene Canady, MD, nearly dropped out of college due to a crisis of selfconfidence but ultimately went on to achieve dramatic success in medicine. In 1981, she became the first black neurosurgeon in the United States, and just a few years later, she rose to the ranks of chief of neurosurgery at Children’s Hospital of Michigan. Canady worked for decades as a successful pediatric neurosurgeon and was ready to retire in Florida in 2001. But she donned her surgical scrubs once again to practice part time at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, where there was a dearth of pediatric neurosurgery services. Canady has been lauded for her patient-centered approach to care, which she said was a boon to her career. “I was worried that because I was a black woman, any practice opportunities would be limited.” But, she noted, “by being patientcentered, the practice growth was exponential.”

5. Regina Marcia Benjamin, MD, MBA (b. 1956) Regina Marcia Benjamin, MD, MBA, may be best known for her tenure as the 18th U.S. Surgeon General, during which she served as first chair of the National Prevention Council. The group of 17 federal agencies was responsible for developing the National Prevention Strategy, which outlined plans to improve health and well-being in the United States. But it’s not just her work at the highest levels of public health that earned her praise. Long before she was appointed “the nation’s doctor” in 2009, Benjamin worked extensively with rural communities in the South. She is the founder and CEO of Bayou Clinic in Bayou La Batre, Louisiana, which provides clinical care, social services, and health education to residents of the small Gulf Coast town. Benjamin helped rebuild the clinic several more times, including after damage inflicted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and a fire in 2006. Of the clinic, she said she hopes that she is “making a difference in my community by providing a clinic where patients can come and receive health care with dignity.”

In conclusion we see that greatness can be found amongst all of us. There is no limit to where we find brilliance, commitment, dedication and the ability to overcome the most difficult obstacles. These are the traits we need more than ever today. Now let us stay safe, be well and love one another. This is the way we will fight the difficult battle ahead of us.

Fondly, for the Diversity Committe


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