Membership and Fellowship |
By Ashanda Saint Jean, MD, FACOG
My story is not a short one. It is one filled with highs and lows. It has taken a long and sometimes painful journey to arrive where I am, and it is still not over. My story begins and will end with Black resistance, Black perseverance, Black courage, Black fear, Black pain, and Black triumph.
I am a descendant of those who arrived in the Americas by the transatlantic slave trade. It was instilled in me at a very young age to strive higher, reach further, and study harder to reach my goal of becoming a physician. My parents, my grandparents, and all my relatives played a poignant role in that achievement. The encouragement, the love, the protection, the support, and the guidance that they gave me all played vital roles in my development and maturation in medicine and provided the fortitude to continue striving forward when I was the only person of color who was in the room or who had a seat at the table. They are also what strengthened my voice and my will and molded my purpose to help others, empower my patients, and uplift their lived experiences.
Many people of color have faced such hardship in the realm of medicine in seeking equitable health care. There is implicit bias. There is racism. There is discrimination. All can stain one’s medical experience and overall relationship with health care. Unpacking those difficult encounters opens and frees one’s path toward healing. For the sake of ourselves, others, and most importantly our patients, we clinicians must pour into those difficult encounters the very things my family showered me with: encouragement, love, protection, support, and guidance.
Shaping health care systems that care for all and judge none. Reconstructing medical training curricula for the next generation of medical professionals. Combating and preventing maternal mortality and morbidity. Addressing racial disparities, health disparities, and social determinants of health. Resistance must be a concentrated, concerted, selfless fight to improve the lives of others.
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” —Dr. Martin Luther King Jr
The theme for Black History Month 2023 is Black Resistance. This February, ACOG wants to hear from our members about how they’ve created, benefited from, or seen the need for space to resist racism and work toward equity in medicine or in their institution. Email [email protected] to share a story in the form of a written essay, visual art, or a video.