One of the biggest takeaways from a year of isolation, disruption, tragedy and distraction is just how well we fared through it all. To say that people have been resilient is an understatement. Recent events in Minneapolis and other parts of our nation have underscored the importance of accountability, while emphasizing how central health and well-being are to our ability to thrive and persevere.
While the recent acts of racism and hate have caused new trauma and opened the eyes and hearts of many, the reality is that communities of color experience this kind of trauma on a daily basis – and it is trauma that is rooted in systemic racism. For example, the Black community was anxious about the Chauvin trial outcome on many different levels, and many still have fears about driving, shopping or jogging while Black. For all of us in the BIPOC community, this has also been compounded by having to navigate the white spaces that are our workplaces, reinforcing the toll of the lack of diversity and inclusivity, a factor that can impact the stability of our organizations.
The prominence of mental health has also been highlighted by the havoc the pandemic has wreaked on our families, communities and life as we know it. Not only has COVID-19 shone a spotlight on the fragility of life and basic nature of relationships, it also has forced us to reexamine what’s truly meaningful in our lives.
The wounds of inequity – human, health, societal – that have been opened reinforce the importance of reimagining and rebuilding our processes and systems that reflect and serve everyone’s needs, especially the communities that have been ignored and left behind. Sound health produces resilience, building a more sustainable world and positive outlook for everyone.
As we start to contemplate life beyond COVID-19, we need to look inward and consider doing the following:
- Discern your own health situation – physical and emotional. Dig into your personal biases, beliefs and worldview and challenge your thinking to ensure clarity of purpose, voice and commitment.
- Put the voices of under-represented/under-served at the center of our world – see, hear and support their needs/issues. For those of us in healthcare, it’s time to consider their experience across the patient journey.
- Commit to, embrace and ensure inclusion and diversity in all you do – move away from the easy check-the-box solutions and focus on the work of anti-racism. Take meaningful, purposeful steps that start to move the needle with change.
- Rethink/recommit to allyship in a way that truly helps people rise and thrive. To be a true ally, dedicate yourself to mentorship, listening, educating and developing. Showing up and supporting those who have been under-served in a non-optical way is the path to real allyship
If we take anything positive from COVID-19 it is that society literally stopped long enough to view its deficits when it comes to race and essentials such as health. Our individual and collective resilience to move forward, as well as our openness about the gaps and ugliness of society, is making us stronger, wiser and hopefully better.
Health can possibly be the great equalizer.