A TED talk by Mary Bassett
After listening to Mary Bassett, the commissionaire of New York City’s department of health, speak about her experiences with different cultures and their relationship to the medical world, I could not help but feel moved. Bassett worked as a medical professional in Zimbabwe during the AIDs epidemic and there she was able to see the inequality of the medical system first hand.
When seeing a social injustice occur in the medical world, one has a different level of responsibility. When racism occurs in the medical world, people lose their lives. When a group of individuals, whether they be a single mother or someone who speaks a different language or a individual who is black, isn’t represented they lose their voice and in many cases their lives. I know this sounds dramatic, but it is true. To support this reality, Bassett talks about some shocking statistics about the death rate of black individuals in America.
The statistic that hit home for me was the one that said that a black baby is three times more likely to pass away in their first year of life than a white baby is. I hope to become a pediatrician someday, so hearing this disturbing fact about how embedded racism in our society is leading to the death of CHILDREN shook me to my core.
My big question is how can I be the most educated and culturally sensitive pediatrician possible. I want to not only be the person who is aware of racial injustice, but the one who speaks out against it. The one who works hard to help every family equally, despite the color of their skin or the language they speak. Mary Bassett is an inspiration to me, because she has been that voice in the medical world. She saw an injustice in the system and she took action to stop it.
Dr. Melanie Klein