Have you ever been part of a conversation, physically, but not socially? Everyone makes eye contact with each other except you. They are all planning some other event and you are not invited! Without knowing it, you are invisible and irrelevant! The Black Experience is the risk of being ignored in a way that is deeply personal, emotionally and physically damaging. Tim Wise can tell you more than I about, The Forgotten Black Experience and its people.
These nuanced encounters happen every day to black children and adults all over.
Still, I think it is all in my head.
But the same pattern,
Repeated over and over again
Not only to me, but to million others,
Tells me it is not in my head!
Yes, I know this happens to other cultural groups, even those privileged. But there are significant historical and physical differences. Today racism smolders, erupting at a moments notice under seemingly benign circumstances.
The new type of racism is nuanced, non-verbal and lethal. Some systems, particularly those in medicine and public health, have institutionalized racism; it is part of their social fabric. It is so ubiquitous, they don’t see it. Embedded in their hierarchy and bureaucratic systems is the survival of White Privilege.
White Privilege, to be blinded, to deny, to be bystanders who benefit in the face of gross overt societal inequities.
Openly manifested in the language and climate are their discomforts with black people and other targeted ethnic minorities.
All systems with gaps and disparities have elements of racism accompanied by discrimination and stereotypes, which result in limited access to blacks and other minorities. Access is a huge problem for many disadvantaged groups. Quality care is another. All of these are part of the black experience, interestingly, this happens before people of color utter a word.
My recent hospital admissions were prime examples of discrimination on many levels without any recourse, unless I died. Forget complaining to the hospital or some local government agencies paid to protect you. I wasted several days and calls over months only find out staff changes left my complaint out in the cold and lost in the shuffle.
Finally, I realized they were not there to help only to get a pay check, a total waste of taxpayers dollars. I received conflicting information and no follow-up — I got tired of calling them back! Yes, I digress because I was tortured and bullied for over 17 hours in a hospital emergency department before urgent surgery.
How can I not be bitter? To not have my pain controlled and to wake up surrounded by vomit and blood filled buckets still untouched (or not cleared) after 2-4 hours of sleep… would this happen to a hospital board member or a friend of that mean, bully nurse in the ER? I think not! There would be media interest and outrage?
Now, I have anxiety at thoughts of entering another ER or hospital…and I should…
Did anyone care? NO! Does anyone care now? Sadly, probably not!
Will the ER crew that night change their ways? NO, they got away with it! Who knows maybe that nurse got promoted! OKay, I am being too cynical, am I? Can you blame me? You really don’t know the story so you can’t make that determination.
That hospital’s administration, my insurance company and the government agencies (who claim to protect our rights) were not interested a story, a classic example of systemic racism / discrimination that lead to increase morbidity and mortality –(disparities)–among millions of black people and other ethnic minorities. I guess discrimination was not and is not trending!
That is part of the Black Experience, never quite knowing, but suspecting based on repeated patterns of exclusion and lack of appreciation for your contributions. People claim we whine, do we?
(BTW, I do not think my insurance company should have paid for the ER part of my visit but they didn’t care.)
With little oversight of these nuanced and overt instances of racism that occur daily in Healthcare, these problems, which are causing significant harm, remain growing elephants ignored. The perpetrators instead of being shown more culturally responsive ways to handle other cultures are quietly given the nod of approval by hospital administrators, who are making millions off a system that is drowning this country in debt. Where is the government when we really need them? Busy with politics along party lines, while Main Street suffers!
Another way these systems make the playing field uneven! They keep the status quo of the dominant privileged classes by improving their health, education and access to exclusive opportunities. That is justice in America!
Make no mistake
You or your ideas are not of interest
Or importance to them
Unless it comes from their own!
Such was my experience at a recent meeting. In the past, this would ruin the night but not this time. The people who refused to look me in the eyes were also the leaders and deceitfully the most passionate advocates for disenfranchised people/communities.
Then there was the “Aha” moment! I realized, “This was The Problem!” These people wear facades of advocacy. Intentionally or not, they perpetuate a system whose woven threads of discrimination, fear, and greed are part of the social make-up of the dominant privileged class.
Where is my evidence? Look around you, there is no need for evidence based studies to confirm a fact!
Finally, part of the Black Experience rest on the shoulders of black people. It is what you choose to do with that experience that will make the biggest difference in your life and others.
I tire of always seeing the world through the lens of a culture that is not my own. Why can’t more people see it from my cultures’ point of view? Why aren’t we given multiple chances like everyone else?
One reason: the Success of media in reinforcing stereotypes and its Failure to Listen to the undertones of other cultures!
Want to hear more stories? Check these out!