Racism underlies the worst health disparities in our country. It is up to white people to fix this problem – and we have chosen to be blind to it.

But we can no longer go on saying we want to improve public health without looking our privilege square in the mirror. So, I’m going to try a little experiment this summer: instead of my usual “idea episodes,” I’m going to give action steps that white people can take to start recognizing and dismantling our privilege. This episode is the first in what I hope to be a series. The article I mention is Owner Whose Store Called 911 on George Floyd: “I Wish The Police Were Never Called.

Highlights include:

2:00 – JM: “Racism underlies the worst healthcare disparities in our country.”

2:26 – JM: “I don’t think we can go on saying we want to improve public health without looking our privilege square in the face and doing something about it.”

4:20 – JM: “I’m not an expert. I’m not pretending to be an expert in all of this. I’ve just been on this planet for 52 years and I have seen how difficult it is for white people to talk about this. And certainly growing up in Minnesota, this was not something people did talk about. This was something that was always more polite not to mention. And that is something I think white people hide behind a lot – that it’s too uncomfortable. So I think the first step for white people who want to do something about white privilege and racism is we have to start getting comfortable feeling uncomfortable.”

6:55 – JM: “What white people feel around the issues of racism is shame and discomfort and feeling like we can’t survive the blame being thrown at us. Even though the blame is rightly being thrown at us.”

7:00 – JM: “The anger needs to come home to us. It is right for black people to be angry at white people about racism. And it is right for us to be uncomfortable and to be scared about what that says about us. And what that says about how we’ve been living and the willful blindness that we have had.”

10:30 – “This is not an isolated incident: they have shown time and time again that they do not know how to peacefully handle conflicts in our community. By simply following procedure we are putting our communities in danger. Until the police stop killing innocent people, we will handle incidents like this one using non-violent tactics that do not involve police. We must stand together to fight against institutional racism.” – Source: Owner Whose Store Called 911 on George Floyd: “I Wish The Police Were Never Called

15:20 – JM: “With this birdwatching woman who called the cops, and which to me was so over the top, I want to always say, you know, that’s not like me, but it’s close enough. It was close enough. And it hits home. It hits home and it’s terrifying … and I think as white people, we need to own that.”

16:45 – JM: “We have to look at this and say, what have we accepted as normal in ourselves, in our society? What have we decided was so omnipresent that it wasn’t even worth looking at? That it was just the way it is? We need to own that and say it’s the way it is because of who we have let ourselves be.”

18:10 – JM: “Who else can talk about what is happening in white spaces except us?”

Leading with Health is the podcast where women dive into societal change through the lens of healthcare. Host Jennifer Michelle has a Master’s in Public Health and Epidemiology and is a certified EMT. As President of Michelle Marketing Strategies, Jennifer specializes in healthcare marketing. Jennifer is available to speak at conferences and also provides free marketing consultations. Contact her here.

Photo by LOGAN WEAVER on Unsplash.