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You Matter: Reflections on Black History Month


By Omar M. Young, MD, FACOG


"The more things change, the more things stay the same." Those classic words, written by Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr in 1849, so tragically yet accurately capture the current state of American medicine. Decades-long research advances have literally saved lives—for example, knowledge of mRNA, virology, and immunology have provided America with the ability to avidly fight against COVID-19. However, the pandemic has undoubtedly forced us to see glaring inequities in health care and the consequences of poor access to both preventative and necessary care.

I reflect each February on Black history, admiring those that have come before me. Simultaneously, I am filled with anger, as right on the front lines, I hear the stories of Black pregnant people’s negative experience with the health care system, wondering if I am there to help them or to harm them. As a Black physician, I know what vital role I play in their lives—and that is such a privilege. When I encounter a patient, I want them to know just two words: You matter. With this dedicated mindfulness of spirit and willful persistence, the state of American medicine can—and will—change.

Topics Health equity