Reflections on Race and Health Matters Zoominars –
Racism and Health Matters: Do you See What I See?

Part I – January 26, 2021 ♦ Part II  – April 26, 2021

 
GREETINGS, HMA MEMBERS AND FRIENDS

These are challenging times. Our faith is being tested. We are called on to be more Christ-like, to love our neighbor! How can we say that HMA is “People of Faith Working Together for Healthier Communities?”

There is a serious health issue in our communities. Racism is a serious health issue. Race and Health Matters. Jesus did not discriminate. As true believers, we do not get to pick and choose who we love or hate, who we serve or turn away because we are all God’s creation.

One of the cornerstones of HMA’s existence is healing the sick. The events of the past four years have highlighted the painful existence of racism as a serious health issue. The disparity in services across the board can be traced backed to unconscious bias and racism. These disparities can be linked to PTSD in people of color, poor and disenfranchised Americans.

Dr. Martin Luther King was seeking the “Beloved Community” that would require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives. Love and Justice are the governing principles of the “Beloved Community.”

I see HMA as an organization primed to assist in building a Health and Wholeness Community through leading the dialogue around racial healing and unconscious bias and microaggression. In the “Beloved Community,” poverty, hunger, homelessness, and health inequalities will not be accepted. Personal unconscious bias and systemic racism, and all forms of discrimination will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood. We welcome you to dialogue with us, and like Jesus told the disciples, “Go out and tell others.”

Rev. William Coleman, HMA Vice-President wecbwc@aol.com

TOWARD HEALING

Our second Zoominar on understanding implicit/unconscious bias in April, led by Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell, had these objectives: to learn what unconscious bias is and how microaggressions are one way that biases are expressed; to become aware of our own biases; to share some of our own experiences of how bias comes up in health; and to identify ways to interrupt unconscious bias and racism.

Those of us who attended came away enlivened with further understanding in these areas. We started by realizing that everyone has biases; it’s part of human nature. The growth comes when we pause to recognize our biases when they manifest, then apologize and learn to move away from those biases in our interactions. It’s a lifelong growth process and one vital to our common good.

As Rev. Coleman notes in his article, racism has negative health effects for those who bear the brunt of racism: higher stress levels, PTSD, inadequate healthcare, etc. This is contrary not only to Dr. King’s vision of the Beloved Community, it runs against the Holy One’s mandate of love. Throughout the Jewish scriptures run various iterations of the command to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18) In the Christian scriptures, the writer of I John says, “those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.” (I John 4:21) The Muslim Qur’an exhorts, “treat with kindness your parents and kindred, and orphans and those in need; speak fair to the people….” (Surah 2:83)

These two Zoominars with Rev. Girton-Mitchell, in January and April, have been opportunities to open our minds and hearts to interrupting racism. Opportunities for further conversation and learning are in the planning stages. Stay tuned and plan to participate! And we welcome ideas you have for HMA to grow in addressing bias in health ministry and healthcare and in our organization. Feel free to reach out to Rev. Coleman or me with your ideas.

Rev. Karen MacDonald, HMA Past President desertsky57@gmail.com