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.

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