Courageous Conversations: Stratford Engages in Another Series of Raising the BAR (Becoming Anti-Racist)

Health Disparities

by Sally Head
Correspondent

This month’s session focused on the on Health Disparities that many African Americans face when visiting the doctor or any health care practitioner.

Courageous Conversations take place once a month via zoom and are led by President and CEO of the Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport, Cass L. Shaw. To prepare for the Health Disparities session participants were asked to read: Race and Medicine: 5 Black People Share What It’s Like to Navigate Race in Healthcare; Myths About Physical Racial Differences; How We Fail Black Patients in Pain. Participants were also asked to watch a 17-minute Ted Talk show on “How Racism Makes Us Sick”.

Approximately 30 people attended the Health Disparities session, and Rev. Cass opened up the meeting with a video from a Ted Talk, called the “Problem with Raced-Based Medicine” by Dorothy Roberts. In this talk Ms. Roberts, talked about her confusion with answering a simple question such as. “What is your race?” According to Roberts who asks, where else in medicine is race used to make false biological predictions?” She goes on to add that, Race medicine leaves patients of color vulnerable to harmful biases and stereotypes. Ms. Roberts continues to say, “the reason I am so passionate about ending race medicine, not because it is bad medicine, but also because of the way doctors practice medicine continues to promote a false and toxic view of humanity.”

After listening to the Ted Talk series we then heard an incredible, yet harrowing story by Lisa Michniewicz, who endured loss and pain because she did not receive adequate health care while she was pregnant with her first child. Ms.Michniewicz, an African American, shared how she asked to see a doctor because something was obviously not right with the baby. She explained that they refused to see her at the doctor’s office and they sent her to the hospital where she later found out she lost the baby. According to Ms. Michniewicz, that for many African Americans, the mistrust in the health care system is real. She expressed the need ‘”to move forward, to become anti-racist.”

We then broke out in the smaller groups, where a moderator leads the group with probing questions such as, “how did her story make you feel?” Each participant was asked to speak up and share their view or views about what we read, watched or heard. The participants listened and the moderator probes for more voices to be heard. Many people in the small group agreed that it was incredible that we are still facing these biases and stereotypes today and that there seems to be more that needs to be done.

We then reconvened back into our large group where participants were again encouraged to share their thoughts on the topic, with people sharing that we all need to be a health advocate for an equitable health care system.

The next Courageous Conversation session will be on 1/21/21 at 7:30pm The topic will be Voter Suppression-very appropriate considering this follows the swearing in of a new president on January 20th.

Each 75-minute meets once a month, via zoom and to join the next meeting you can dial in 929-295-6099.  The meeting ID is 828 1441 2076. Participants are encouraged to do some homework prior to joining the discussion, but the homework is notmandatory.

For further information you may call The Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport, (203) 334-1121.

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