Tag Archives: Race

Apology accepted…I guess?

Howdy, interwebs. I have been blogging a lot less than I used to. For those of you that haven’t been around for the long haul, I used to post a lot, and I would dive in to controversial topics often. But, I cut down on my blogging for many reasons, not the least of which is how divisive and angry people can get online, and how annoying it gets to rehash the same arguments over and over.

Well, every now and then I get pulled back in. Here is where I should warn the more sensitive of my readers that there will be some four letter words coming, because of the, um, writing style of the person involved. Today, when I woke up, one of my Facebook friends posted a link to this post about white privilege by a certain contentious blogger. It starts with “Years ago, some feminist on the internet told me I was “Privileged”. “THE FUCK!?!?” I said.”

Sigh.

Let’s hop on the wayback machine. I was that feminist. Here is the original post, if anyone wants to follow the sordid path. It wasn’t even a touchy post about white privilege, with nuance about class. It was a post about a blatantly racist display in which Obama was compared to a monkey. She still couldn’t handle it, and wanted to make the discussion about how she was poor as a child, and how mean black people were to her. She didn’t say “THE FUCK?!?!”. She accused me of reverse racism, and proceeded to call me a “cunt” who was “stalking” her (when she was posting on my blog, not to mention the cognitive dissonance of being a feminist who uses either term in that way…huh?) on twitter. She also used my real name and location on twitter, even though she was well aware that I was blogging anonymously at the time. This led me to “coming out” and subtly changing the way I discussed my patients, friends and medical school -> doctoring on here.

Here is where I was a “good feminist” as she called me in the post I saw on Facebook, and linked to many resources for her to learn about the concept of white privilege, and the BS that is so-called reverse racism.

She still hadn’t learned the lesson when we interacted here on the Unnecesarean, which all you old timers will remember was a hugely popular blog at the time in the natural birthy circles.

Now, on the one hand I am happy that she has at least woken up to the reality of white privilege, including her own. I am happy that she has spent the past few years working on her blog readership, while I have spent that time becoming a doctor and letting my blog languish, and she is getting the information out to many people. I may not agree with her, often, and honestly avoid her like the plague, as do many old timers from the natural birth blogosphere. I didn’t even find out about this post from November until today. I definitely have a problem with her lack of civility. She has gone from saying that I’m a cunt to saying “Lord help me, if I have to explain Privileged one more F*CK*NG time today. Seriously? LOOK IT UP. White? Privileged. Straight? Privileged. Man? Privileged. Got food? Privileged. American? Privileged. Health Insurance? Privileged. Please for the love of god if you think you’re a feminist, LEARN ABOUT PRIVILEGE.” I guess that’s an improvement?

So, I can’t comment on the latest post in which she has promoted me from a “stalking cunt” to a “good feminist” who introduced her to intersectionality and white privilege. I’m not a paying member, and I doubt my comment would get through her cadre of moderators. She is not well known for allowing any negative comments about her, at all, on any site she has control over. Please note I did not ban her from my site or moderate her comments. I politely asked her to, in my own nice way, to “Seriously? LOOK IT UP.” (her words now) before she came back to discuss the topic.

I still want to remind her of the concept of white women’s tears, which I explained to her back when this all started. She still spends almost the entire post about white privilege talking about her poor upbringing. Listen, I am sorry about every time she was cold and hungry. Poverty = horrible. I am a class warrior with the best of them, trust me. But, if you still spend every discussion of white privilege talking about how poor you were when you were a little white girl, you are still missing the point.

This poem is by a Native American poet named Chrystos

Those Tears

of a white woman who came to the group for Women of Color
only
her grief cut us into guilt while we clutched the straw
of this tiny square inch we have which we need
so desperately when we need so much more
We talked her into leaving
which took 10 minutes of our precious 60
Those legion white Lesbians whose feelings are hurt
because we have a Lesbians of Color Potluck
once a month for 2 hours
without them
Those tears of the straight woman
because we kicked out her boyfriend at the Lesbians only
poetry reading where no microphone was provided
& the room was much too small for all of us
shouting that we were imperialists
though I had spent 8 minutes trying to explain
to her that an oppressed people
cannot oppress their oppressor
She ignored me
charged into the room weeping & storming
taking up 9 minutes of our precious tiny square inch
Ah those tears
which could be jails, graves, rapists, thieves, thugs
those tears which are so puffed up with inappropriate grief
Those women who are used to having their tears work
rage at us
when they don’t
We are not real Feminists they say
We do not love women
I yell back with a wet face
_Where are our jobs? Our apartments?_
_Our voices in parliament or congress?_
_Where is our safety from beatings, from murder?_
_You cannot even respect us to allow us_
_60 uninterrupted minutes for ourselves_

Your tears are chains
Feminism is the right of each woman
to claim her own life her own time
her own interrupted 60 hours
60 days
60 years
No matter how sensitive you are
if you are white
you are
No matter how sensitive you are
if you are a man
you are
We who are not allowed to speak have the right
to define our terms our turf
These facts are not debatable
Give us our inch
& we’ll hand you a hanky

7 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Who knew closing the gender and race gap could be so easy?

I thought this article on a 15 minute writing exercise that improved the performance of women in physics and students of color in high school was beautiful in its simplicity.

Think about the things that are important to you. Perhaps you care about creativity, family relationships, your career, or having a sense of humour. Pick two or three of these values and write a few sentences about why they are important to you. You have fifteen minutes. It could change your life.

This simple writing exercise may not seem like anything ground-breaking, but its effects speak for themselves. In a university physics class, Akira Miyake from the University of Colorado used it to close the gap between male and female performance. In the university’s physics course, men typically do better than women but Miyake’s study shows that this has nothing to do with innate ability. With nothing but his fifteen-minute exercise, performed twice at the beginning of the year, he virtually abolished the gender divide and allowed the female physicists to challenge their male peers.

The exercise is designed to affirm a person’s values, boosting their sense of self-worth and integrity, and reinforcing their belief in themselves. For people who suffer from negative stereotypes, this can make all the difference between success and failure.

People who are in the minority (and I mean a power minority, not a numerical one) – people of color, women in science classes, disabled people, etc. – often feel that their values and needs are invisible in an academic situation. This exercise simply affirms that this is not necessarily true.

I want to go into academics one day. I may need to do this exercise in my classes.

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Nothing like bad news to drive a message home

(Trigger warning for poor obstetrical outcome)

Less than one week after I blogged about the maternal mortality crisis among black women in our country, I lost a friend. She was of Haitian descent, a fellow medical student, an aspiring ob/gyn, and a kind and wonderful person. She was eight months pregnant with her first baby, and newly married. We talked for a while last week about her taking time off, breastfeeding, and pumping when she got back to rotations. She was incredibly happy about becoming a mother.

She went into premature labor this weekend. She had a hemorrhagic stroke. She died. The baby is doing fine.

This was not an underprivileged woman by most definitions, at least not currently. She may have been raised in an impoverished home. The Haitian population in South Florida in general is devastatingly poor. She was well educated. She was not “advanced maternal age”. She was not a teen mother. She was not obese. She had good prenatal care and insurance. She had family support and was happy about her pregnancy. As far as I know, she had no health conditions, didn’t smoke, and didn’t do any drugs.

But, she was a black woman in America, which puts her at much higher risk of premature labor and death. In recent years, the maternal mortality rate for black women in Miami has been up to 10 times that of white women. We don’t completely understand why. Different delivery of care, early life malnutrition or lack of health care, the stress of racism, biological or genetic differences…these all may play a role.

But, right now what we do know is that a baby is born without a mother, and a husband is welcoming a new baby in his life with a dead wife, and no mother to help raise it. That is a horrible shame.

15 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Proud to be an American

Happy birthday, USA!

When I say I am proud to be an American, (a USian, really, but I am quoting a song title), I am proud of what we have done that is progressive, such as women’s suffrage, and the civil rights movement. I am also optimistic of the potential we have to improve ourselves. I do not think that means we have to ignore problems that we have, or not admit mistakes, as many people mistakenly consider patriotism to be. I think having low standards and ignoring our issues is the opposite of patriotism.

Anyway, despite the partially successful civil rights movement of the 60’s, there is still glaring racism and racial inequalities in our country. Please check out this blog carnival at the Uneccesarean. It’s a round up of posts discussing the shockingly and depressingly high rates of infant and maternal mortality suffered by black women and infants in our country.

And, before someone goes there (which has happened before on this blog and on others so often it’s on racism bingo cards), it’s not a class issue. These inequalities still exist even when the mother is college educated, compared to white mothers who don’t even have a high school degree. This is more pervasive and deeper than class. Not that poverty isn’t important, but there is no quota for issues we should address to make this country even greater.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Crunch on these while I crunch numbers

I am working on getting my data analyzed by a friendly professor who knows more about that stuff than I do. Chi square mumble mumble. Then, I am going to be hunkering down and working on my paper and/or poster.

I also have other stuff going on in my personal life that is keeping me occupied, to say the least. I’ll try not to be so mysterious forever, but I am not ready to dump it all out on here just yet. Especially when I get comments calling me a broodsow, and wishing a fatal disease on my children and me. Nice. So, I pat myself on the back for keeping a lot of my personal life off this blog.

In the meantime, here is some stuff to check out:

Dr. Fogelson discusses cesarean closure at Academic Ob/Gyn

The Female Patient(pdf), which I just discovered. That particular paper is on estrogen pharmokinetics and delivery.

Last but not least, Drunk History, Vol. 3. This one is about President Washington’s runaway slave Oney Judge.

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Exciting things a-brewin’

I am going to be in a production of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues tomorrow night. This is my third year being involved with our medical school V Day production. I was the narrator for the past two years. This year I am performing the poem at the end, a poem about birth called “I Was There in the Room”. It ends with:

The heart is capable of sacrifice
So is the vagina
The heart can forgive and repair
It can change its shape to let us in
It can expand to let us out
So can the vagina
It can ache for us and stretch for us, die for us
And bleed and bleed us into this difficult, wondrous world
I was there in the room
I remember

I also was selected to be a delegation coordinator for Amnesty International’s lobbying effort to bring attention to maternal mortality, including lack of prenatal care and racial disparities.

So, I know I am supposed to write up my cousin Susan’s birth story (which will probably be my first non guest post at Mothers in Medicine), and talk about the whole NIH VBAC conference thing, and recruit more doctors for my survey, but I’m a little busy right now. I’ll get to them soon, I swear.

6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Race, pregnancy and birth, link round up and reply turned post

There has been a lot of comprehensive, thoughtful discussion of race and its intersection with reproduction on the intertubes recently.

Do Black Women’s Reproductive Rights Matter? by Renee at Womanist Musings

Race and the Rights of Childbearing Women by Jill at the Unnecesarean

Women of Color and the Anti-Choice Focus on Eugenics by Pamela Merritt (aka Angry Black Bitch) at RH Reality Check

The Facts About Abortion Rates Among Women of Color by Susan Cohen on RH Reality Check

I wrote a reply on the last post, which I will reproduce here:

When I wrote about this on my own blog recently, a commenter mentioned the recently released movie Maafa 21, which was funded by an anti-choice group out of Texas not known for its civil rights history.

I hope this conversation continues, and the dominant voices aren’t the ones that use the horrible history of blacks in America and eugenics to try to deprive them of reproductive freedoms today. I was searching for a womanist, feminist and racially sensitive review (preferably by a woman of color) of the movie, but was only able to find copied and pasted press releases about how “well argued” it is. I don’t think it’s irrefutable at all, nor do I think laws banning or restricting legal and safe abortion help women of color. Rather, they would be the ones disproportionally getting unsafe abortions. I can only assume most people, including pro-choice and / or womanist women of color, don’t want to sit through the film in order to discuss it. I do think watching it is important, but considering all the important work I agree with that I don’t have time to watch, this film is low on my list. And, it doesn’t use my history to argue against my rights, (just the history of some of my ancestors’ enslavement and oppression of blacks) since I am white, so I can only guess that it wouldn’t be as difficult to watch for me as it would be for a woman of color.

That’s the problem when race and racism intersects with other social issues. And it does. With all of them. The fact that racism shows an effect in abortion rates doesn’t condemn abortion, it condemns racism. Racism is present in heart attack treatment in emergency rooms, but that doesn’t condemn treatment of heart attacks. It affects birth, mode of delivery, place of delivery, complication (morbidity) rates for the mom and the baby including preterm delivery, mortality rates, etc. That doesn’t condemn obstetrics in general, but it indicates that racism is pervasive, and is one of the many issues within obstetrics (and emergency care, and reproductive care) that needs to be examined and improved upon.

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized