If We Listen

By Natalie Irons, Associate Director, Instructional Coaching, UCLA Center X

When I picked up my daughter from school, she pointed out all the twos in today’s date. All I could think of was how the second day of this second month was the day my mom passed from ALS a few years ago and I’m still trying to make sense of what happened as a result of this disease. To shift my mental energy, we talked about the celebrations of this month of Black history and that “every month is really Black history month.” I have now learned that this year the month’s focus theme is Black health and wellness.

On our drive home is a billboard that reads, “If we listen we can end bias in healthcare.” I am struck by this advertisement more so today. This pandemic has more than highlighted the disparities in healthcare for Black communities. We see the impacts of what the Institute of Medicine found in a study in 2005 that Black people are “sicker and have shorter life spans than their white complements.”

I think about my own healthcare provider, a Black woman, and how she spent 20 minutes on the phone with me last week, reminding me to listen to my body and the signals it’s telling me about possible stressors. I want to celebrate her and the gift she gave me; listening to me so that I can listen to my body. I am fairly certain she must have someone who listens to her because of her capacity to listen. And, I am fairly certain there are so many who do not have someone listening to them. I hope that on this day in particular, a palindrome day, no less, with all the twos, will send a reminder to be a listener and to celebrate the beautiful gifts of Black women and men.