While protests and demonstrations in support of the movement for Black lives no longer lead the nightly news, at Planned Parenthood we remain committed to the work of dismantling the systemic racism that pervades our communities and institutions. We are listening, we are learning, and we are taking action. But we cannot rectify hundreds of years of racial injustice with good intentions, or by centering ourselves in this struggle.
What we can do right now is amplify the diverse voices for change in our communities of health care, education, and advocacy. And we can hold space for conversations that challenge the deeply rooted institutional racism within our health care structures.
PPPSGV recently had the opportunity to host an online panel on Allyship in Reproductive Health Care that brought together Nourbese Flint, M.A., policy director at Black Women for Wellness, Dr. Nicole Mitchell, OB/GYN and assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at USC Keck School of Medicine and PPPSGV’s medical director Dr. Noah Nattell to discuss the work the medical community must do to build trust within communities of color.
Moderated by PPPSGV’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Consultant Juliana Serrano, the panel explored historical exploitation and abuse perpetrated against people of color by the medical community. That trauma appears today as dangerously disparate health outcomes, including higher rates of cervical cancer, death during childbirth, and COVID-19, as well as limited access to sex education and safe, legal abortions.
The panelists shared their own difficult experiences as patients of color in a health care system designed predominantly by and for white participants, and how that shaped their work and activism in the medical community. When the conversation turned to the future, Ms. Flint, Dr. Mitchell, and Dr. Nattell offered tools and practices to help us all be better allies, including: examining implicit bias in order to create safe health care spaces for people of color; calling out professional environments in which there are no leaders of color and demanding more diversity; and using white privilege to access institutional leadership and advocate for policies and funding for meaningful structural change.
We have much work ahead of us and I am hopeful that by holding space for conversations like these we can begin to improve health care access and outcomes. PPPSGV is committed to directing our attention and our resources to those communities that need us most. That’s why we opened a state-of-the-art health center in Baldwin Park in February. That’s why we’re opening another in Highland Park this summer. And that’s why, despite this pandemic, we continue to expand high-quality reproductive care for all. Because your zip code and the color of your skin shouldn’t determine your health.
I encourage you to watch the recording of the panel discussion, and hope that you find it as compelling as I did. I am very grateful to our panelists for sharing their professional expertise and personal experiences.
If you would like to learn more about the subject of inequity in healthcare, this article is a good place to start:
For an extensive list of anti-racism resources, I recommend this list compiled by Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein:
In This Together,
President & CEO, PPPSGV