So, where do I go from here?

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When I first embarked on this OaklandVoices journey in May 2012, I could not have imagined the many places and situations that this experience has taken me to. I have had the opportunity to meet new people, grow, reflect, and learn. As we draw to a close, I and now faced with a new challenge: so, where do I go from here? How will I go about continuing to share stories about the Town?

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Macroaggression 5,978,234,109…

It happened again. Sometimes there are warnings, and sometimes you are absolutely blindsided.

When you have a “seat at the table” – but you are not quite welcomed.

They either try and pull the chair right from under you as you prepare to sit; serve you with useless/subpar utensils. They may attempt to serve you the scraps, or in some instances, nothing at all.

The “seat at the table” in this context is the seat in which you have the opportunity to be a change agent. An interrupter of injustice. A person that could bring different thoughts/ideas/suggestions to the table that could be helpful to creating positive outcomes to the communities that we are charged with serving.

Today, I got hit with an instance very similar to the good old fashion requests of, “let me speak to your manager.” Even though the manager listed me as the point person… Sigh.

Thoughts that take up precious brain space, feelings, and energy unnecessarily. Regardless as to how much I try not to let this happen – it’s there, and exhausting.

No one should have to jump up and down yelling, “excuse me, but I belong here!”

You’re darned if you do and your darned if you don’t.

If you are silent and just go with the flow – ignorance wins.

If you say something, you play into the negative image that they already had of you (I.e. you are “unprofessional,” you’re loud, you’re argumentative, you’re aggressive, etc.) – and still, ignorance wins. What to do? Self-preservation is key, but dang!

From my lenses…

There is a lot that sits heavy on my heart right now. Everyone has the right to their opinion and vote – and like them, I can only share from the lenses of my experiences. In being a public health practitioner and educator for nearly 30 years, I have seen and felt a lot. The good with the bad. The ups and the downs. The forward progress and the backsliding. In my work, I have been on the ground/in the frontline, in the classroom, out in the streets, in the administrative role, in senior centers, on campuses, etc. Serving the young and old. And what I see coming down the pike scares and angers me. Scares me because I know that folks that I serve, and folks in my family and immediate circle are going to struggle significantly over the course of the next four years. I know, you might say that folks have already ready struggled, but here are a few examples. I’m angered because of the apathy I feel is permeating this society. I used to co-lead a program that worked to help uninsured folks enroll under the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare). Yes, the system wasn’t perfect – but how many times was it yanked, pulled, and gutted before it passed congress? I digress. But we worked to enroll folks who were severely ill and didn’t even know it. I’m talking 40 and 50 year old men that the last time they went to the doctor was when they were 18. The same folks that when they felt “real bad” went to emergency instead of routinely seeing a primary care physician for routine check ups. Yes, it’s easy to put blame on the individual, or site cultural norms, but what about the system? With this new administration coming in, they say they want to take “ObamaCare” away. So what will the uninsured be left with? Another example, at the end of my class yesterday, one of my students asked advice on her career path. She wants to do public health work focused on HIV/AIDS in the LGBT community. The excitement and passion in her voice as she talked about ways she wanted to help people. But my heart sank when she said, “but I’m scared I won’t be able to do this work because I’m undocumented – what if I get deported in the next 4 years?” I wanted to cry. What do you say to that? “Oh, you’re good – don’t trip?” And even if this administration takes a turn while he is in office – how will that stop the train of the most vile and visceral behaviors of not only some of their supporters, but random bozos who feel they can say and do whatever they want to others that are of a different race, ethnicity, orientation, background, etc.? Again, you may say that’s already happening – and if you do, I ask how do you think we should stop it? Have you ever tried to stop it? What do you do when you see this? It’s also important to note that in administrations like the one that is coming, health, education, social services, and art programs are the budgets that get significantly reduced or eliminated. Lastly, you realize that a potential cabinet member in this administration wants to bring back “stop and frisk.” If you are old enough, try and remember what that was like. If you are not, do your research. I worry about the folks in my immediate circle that will be recipients of it. And I worry about some law enforcement folks in my circle that are trying to bridge better relations with the community. In some instances – the same folks will be on both sides of that coin. Again, I can only share the lenses of my experiences.