Breathe Easy, You've Found Me ((HUGS))

People will wonder why this blog is needed, why minority midwifery student? It's very simple actually; I was looking for this blog...but I couldn't find I created it. We all have unique experiences, and every experience, every story, can help someone else. I am a black girl from the hood at an ivy league professional school. That, alone, is reason enough to write. Somebody was looking for this blog. Someone wanted proof that what I'm doing can be done - even when you come from where we come from.

To that person especially, WELCOME.

Sunday, September 30, 2007


I actually got through all of the Patho material for tomorrow's exam, but when I test myself, I don't remember very much. I am so tired of looking at it. I have studied. And studied. And studied. I can't study Patho anymore tonight. I am completely stressed out because this is one of those classes where they issue you one of those "you're not cut out for nursing school" letters if you don't pass the exam, and I already had that experience (along with a few others) in Biomed and I came *this* close to leaving (or being kicked out) the program. I can't deal with that again. It was too much the last time. But I've given it all I have today, I have to move on to my other classes. (I have 6 classes, not including clinical or labs)

I have started studying for Midwifery Primary Care and it's not too bad. I have the obesity lecture down and don't need to look at it anymore, and I almost have the immunizations lecture down. The dermatology lecture is KILLING me. Everything looks alike. The last lecture for this exam is the abnormal pap lecture which was very dense. I don't know what I'm going to do to study that one. At least that one feels relevant. I don't think I am going to be the kind of CNM that does a lot of "primary care" as far as non-gyn related issues. I hope to work in a setting that also has FNPs and MDs, because I am just not interested in ear infections, managing you hyperlipidemia, rashes, and mental health treatment. I want to talk to you about your issues, but if you "fail" the mental health depression screening, more than likely I'm going to refer you to a mental health specialist, rather than give you some meds. I don't even want to go there doing eye exams, ear exams, and asthma management. CNMs who read this blog: To what extent do youo provide non-gyn related primary care? (I don't think non-CNM midwives are technically "primary care providers, are they? Someone correct me if I'm wrong...)

Then I have to bring the man back to school with me tonight to practice my HEENT (head, ears, eyes, nose & throat), respiratory, and heart physical exams on him in the lab for my physical assessment lab exam which I am not even close to being ready for.

At some point I have to prepare for a lunch meeting tomorrow. Plus the annual midwifery potluck tomorrow evening. All three classes of midwives and their SOs, plus faculty, come to this potluck. 2nd year students give first year students folders that we make with encouragement for their upcoming midwifery journey (which I haven't made involves copying all the pages from the folder that was given to me and adding the new contents from my class and putting in a folder with some kind of decoration that I have not yet found) I also have to cook something for the potluck...where am I going to find the energy for this stuff?

I don't know.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Exhaustion & Delirium

I have been studying non-stop for what feels like months, but is really only weeks. I have a Nurse-Midwifery Primary Care exam and a Pathophysiology exam on Monday, and my physical assessment check-off exam on Tuesday. I'm so sick of studying. Especially Patho which never seems to sink in. Then I have to get ready for week 2 of clinical which is like a class all by itself, but still rewarding.

I'm tired. But I can't sleep because my mind is full of other stuff...also I think it's psychological...I hate going to sleep now because it always feels like I haven't slept for an hour before it's time to get up. You know that feeling you get when you fall asleep on the couch fully clothed and don't wake up until next morning and you feel like you've been cheated out of a night's sleep because you never really went to bed? That's how it's been feeling lately when I wake up. I hate that.

At least tomorrow I don't have to get up too early. But I should be out of the house by 10 though...I have so much studying to do.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

First Day of GYN Clinical

I survived it. It was so weird. I got emotional, thinking, "this is it...this is what I came here for...I can't believe it." It made clinical feel like make-believe...a dream I was going to wake up from at any moment. This isn't me standing here in this lab coat (we have to wear it) with this speculum in my hand explaining to this 18 year-old girl that her discharge is normal. Can't be me who just found a lump (benign- "always been there" per patient, + preceptor verified it wasn't really a "lump," but great job feeling it!) on size G (yes, G) breasts on my first breast exam. Who found the cervix all by herself on her second patient of the day. And all of this on a day that was supposed to only be "observational."

Today was one of those days that made me realize all over again that there are certainly things we are meant to do in this life, and if you are lucky enough/work hard enough you might actually find yourself doing that very thing you were meant to do at that specific time.

I wish this for everybody because it feels so. damn. good.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I'm Not Taking My Clothes Off

I can't. I was all ready to give it a shot, but I couldn't do it. I had so much anxiety, I almost threw up. There are just some serious boundary issues involved when it comes down to me strippin down to my bra and boxers/biker shorts for class. Yes, it's because I'm fat in a program full of people who are skinny and judgemental. But it's also because I don't want to see my friend without her clothes on, and vice versa. My professor asked if we wanted her to be the model. I was thinkin' hell no, that's a boundary I don't wanna cross either. What is it about can't just be me...I really, sincerely, think there's something wrong with this. It's like seeing your co-workers naked...examining/commenting on their breasts, their skin, and their ear wax...

So, I was reassured that we could do it fully dressed (without any points subtracted from my partner for listening to heart and lungs over clothes) if I wanted to.

I think I can manage with a tank top and some pajama bottoms...

Thanks for your thoughts on the previous post about this folks.


I just wanted to add /clarify that we do have paid GTAs come to my school (similar to med schools) but you only get one practice session with them (which is REALLY helpful) but students usually also practice on each other in other faculty sessions to get more experience! (This for GYN class)

However, in physical assessment we practice everything else on eachother (head to toe exam, etc).

Monday, September 24, 2007

My First GYN Exam & Practicing on Eachother

My first GYN exam was mainly over the menstrual cycle and contraceptives.

What they told us: "It will be multiple choice where you fill in the bubble sheet and you will have a choice of questions to answer. We really want you to do a good job."

What they gave us: A 25-ish question exam that was entirely "short essay" in which you had to come up with the material all on your own.


It's only funny because I still knew the answers and didn't need the prompting that the multiple choice questions would have given me.

Otherwise, I would have been pissed.


So, in midwfery school it seems to be the norm that students practice skills on eachother. This is also the case for nursing school in general...but it's different because in nursing school we aren't talking pap smears and pelvics! From day one I was clear that this was not OK for me. I decline the option of "sharing my body" as is my right. A few others did the same, but by and far most consented. Well, after the first few sessions there were some problems. Students felt that they weren't in control of the sessions (ie; who touched them where or did what, or how involved/physical the faculty were during the teaching) and so they made some complaints (as they should have) and all practice sessions were stopped.

I give our professors credit for how quickly, and sensitively theyhandled the concerns. However, I don't think these sessions should even be a part of the program. I'm not sure if it's just because of the kind of institution that I'm at that makes me feel this way, or if it's the process in general, but I don't like this practice. One issue is that my classmates are not the most sensitive people in the world. A lot of them are very judgemental, naieve, and clueless when it comes to anything outside of their posh upbringings. It is very clear by the statements made in class. So after people make comments about appropriate weight, shape, skin, and social histories that they obviously disdain, how am I supposed to feel comfortable stripping naked for this person to touch me? Some people don't mind doing this in the name of learning. And they are right to point out that people have to learn some way. But at what cost to me? If I am the only fat girl in class, does that mean that I should let everyone try to do a bimanual pelvic exam on me so they can see what it feels like? Should everyone look at my acanthosis nigricans so that they can know how it looks on dark skin? Why should I have to do more than anyone else? Why should my privacy be neglected for the sake of your learning- especially when there are 15 of you and only one of me?

And even when this isn't the issue...there is something creepy and inappropriate to me about practicing on your front of your professors...I don't want my professors to see me without clothes on...just like I don't want to see them without clothes on...there's a boundary issue I think.

What do you guys think?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

How, Where, and Why We Practice

This is a continuation of my comments to this post over at Navelgazing Midwife's place.

I am not saying that it is problematic that (new) midwives practice in communities other than their own. But ask yourself, why do they do this? Are there not any patients in their communities that need care? Is that people in their community would rather be cared for by someone with experience? Is that they feel drawn to help communities other than their own because they see that a need exists and they have the skills to fill the need? Are they coming to this community to stay, or to get their numbers? Why is there such a need in the first place? Why is that there aren't any providers/leaders from this particular community available to fill the need? I'm a midwifery student; if it's helpful to get practice in communities other than your come aint nobody ever sent me to the ritziest part of town to practice for clinical? I understand going to Casa, I really do. I have always wanted to go there. But let's tell ourselves the truth. There's a reason why there is no equivalent to Casa in Beverly Hills.
It is true that if providers from other backgrounds pulled their care out of these neighborhoods, even if it were only two or three years of care in the first place, many, many people would be without care. Dr. Jen asked: "Would taking training programs out of these communities help, or make it worse? Is there anything we, as outsiders, can do to encourage leaders to rise up within a community?" and NM asked: "If we didn’t move outside our own communities, isn’t that forcing women to travel outside their own neighborhoods to obtain care?" Can I say something radical? Withdraw your care. Maybe if you did, our community would find another way. I mean, we wouldn't have a choice, would we? When doctors and nurses would not care for us in the past, we cared for our damn selves. (we built the institutions to train and provide care) When we could not go to "your" schools, we educated ourselves (again, we built the schools and educated our children), and contrary to popular belief, we did a better job at it. Ahhh, "but this is two steps backwards", you'll say. "That's segregation" you'll declare, abhorred. I agree, it is. But I'm not convinced that what we have right now is any better, especially if you're already thinking that if you don't do it, no one will. (forcing women to travel out of their communities for care...maybe instead of coming to find you, I would support my local 18 year old who wants to apprentice, or my soon-to-graduate-college neighbor for a CNM program)
NM asked: "Wouldn’t it be a much kinder and more respectful move to get off our asses and set up shop in their areas of town, acclimate to their culture and offer them the fabulous care they deserve?

My answer: NOPE. What I want is a way to give this "fabulous" care to my damn self. I want midwifery/medicine to stop being this barely attainable career path for people like me. I don't want to have to wait until you feel inclined to give me care. After I have managed to make this possible for people in my community, then YES, certainly, come join me. Let me learn from you, and you learn from me. You're more than welcome to set up shop, but it shouldn't be because the system that leads to this possibility is rigged in your favor. When most of the providers are from one background and most of patients are from another...the learning exchange doesn't feel quite equal...

Lastly, NM asked about the future of midwifery and how people can be inspired by anybody, regardless of race. I agree. However, if it were oh-so-simply about just being around the professional in question- and race didn't matter...wouldn't we have more professionals of color already? I mean, after all, we encounter a lot of professionals that don't look like us already. NM, do you know how very few of us there are? I mean really. Do you know I prayed that I would not be the only black person in my class like my friend in the class above me? After you think about it, ask yourself again if it is not enough to simply have any midwife/primary care provider in front of you. I can tell you with absolute honesty that when I was a child, seeing someone of color in a particular profession absolutely made that profession seem more feasible for me. It is the same principle at work when colleges and universities set up mentorship programs linking ethnic faculty to ethnic students - they do it because they know it makes a difference. The whole reason I have a blog in the first place is because I know this to be true. I have lived it. I gotta write this stuff down because someone wants to know if they can do this. I wanted to know...are you hearing me? I was looking for a black, nursing student blogger from my kind of neighborhood...a black CNM blogger who had done what I wanted to was like I needed proof that it was's hard to imagine college if you don't know of anyone intimately that has done's hard to imagine medical school/nursing school/law school if you don't know anyone who has done it with your circumstances. Let me tell you what that low-income girl sitting in front of you is probably thinking, even without trying to think it...she's thinking I'm not good enough, smart enough, to do what she's have to be really smart to do that/be that...this is for white people...she's thinking it even when she doesn't realize it because those are the words and images she gets all damn day long. Does that sound crazy? Let me give you a comparison. You know how we are so very careful to tell our daughters "you can be anything you want to be... a firefighter, president, an astronaut" and everything else? Why do we do that? Because we know that for a very long time women were conditioned to believed that these were jobs only for men - and usually they thought this because women rarely (if ever) held these positions. Well, it's the same for black people. We have to take the time to spell it out..."you can be a CNM, a neurosurgeon, presdient." Why? for the same reason that we tell our girls, because this whole time we have been led to believe...lived in a country that told us/showed us...otherwise. Now think about the impact seeing Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama run for president is having on our children. Sure, we have told our daughters thay can be president...but doesn't SEEING Hillary make it seem that much more possible? THAT is why it's so important to see professionals of color from your neighborhood in your neighborhood-because they are a walking, talking contradiction of the bullshit you've learned about yourself from day one. No longer is it just someone telling you that it's possible, you have proof.

NM would "like to believe that [we] can leap over the color/race/culture hurdle all on [our] own without someone leading [us] by the hand."

It's not a hurdle. It's my existence. There's no getting over it NM. I might be able to work something out by going around it, but that's about it. And I'll tell you, it damn sure ain't no ways easy to get around it without some help. Someone did lead me (through this racial identity process) by the hand, and I intend to lead as many as I can by the hand, too. Why? Because it is nearly impossible to do it alone. It will drive you crazy. Yes anyone can be a role model. But what happens when racism smacks me in the face? Do I really want to have to convince you that this was about race, or would I rather go into the office of someone who already "gets it" so I don't have to relive it by explaining it?

I really, truly, appreciate people who put their thoughts out for everyone to see in a blog. It's a vulnerable position, to share your opinions, questions, and thoughts. I hope we never stop. Thanks for continuing/being a part of the conversation NM, Sage, and DrJen (and everyone else)

I'm out of steam and I have my first GYN exam in the morning.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I am in class so much, I never have time to learn anything. At what time am I supposed to be able to just sit by myself with the information and absorb?

How come people don't understand that my day in this accelerated program is so fully packed that if they miss my appointment/don't sign my paper/are late letting me out of class, it starts this chain effect where I am late to my next appointment, class, errand and I am the one who looks irresponsible?

What is it about this place that whenever I ask a question, before the teacher can answer it, someone else jumps in with their question...and she actually answers their question first (or sometimes only) making me have to raise my hand again to ask the same damn question I just asked? Come on people, common courtesy.

Please don't have Statistics at 9 am on Monday mornings in a room that does not allow one to bring drinks...who in the hell gets through Stats that early without coffee??? Here's a hint: no matter how many times you say "there's no eating or drinking in this room" (one that has NO COMPUTERS, btw) people are going to bring their coffee. There's just no way around it.

If one more person in my class raises their hand to "prove what they know" instead of asking a sincere question, I'm going to scream.

And now, I'm on my way to the get a car registered. I hear the DMV here is very notorious for taking HOURS to do ANYTHING.

Please God/dess/Universe/ whatever, be kind to me today.

I've had all I can stand for one day.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

My Anonymity gone.

A classmate found my blog, and now I don't know how many others also know my identity. That's why my blog is frozen for now. You must have a login and password to read it (as those of you reading it right now know). The girl who found it happens to be the "drunk white girl" from this post. It must have been hard to read about herself. It sucks when you have to come face to face with some stuff you'd rather not deal with when you least expect it. She sent me an email. Then she sent my friend an email. They had coffee and talked it over. I'm happy for them.

I could just keep blogging publicly as though nothing has changed. The risk is that everything I say about the people I'm learning with will be analyzed, critiqued, and probably used against me. Used to say things like "see how sensitive she is" or "why don't you like me?" And even if not, people will have comments, because that's just how it is when people know a blogger's identity. Friends and I talk about my posts all the time, and that's fine, but honestly, I don't want to talk about my writing with people other than them. I don't want to explain myself. (I'm not going to explain myself.) And then there's the fact that if students know, then eventually the school I'm blogging about will no longer be anonymous, and I don't wish to sway people's opinions about whether or not they should come here because I truly believe that it's all about experiences will not be your experiences...and I try to present information in a way that makes it applicable for any school one attends. I also don't wish to be on the radar of the school. I don't want my blog held against me.

My other choice is to leave the blog open to invited guests only. The problem with this is that no one can find the damn thing if I leave it like this! I really am writing this blog for people who wanna know how to do this thing I'm doing. I know they're out there looking for tips, advice, information, proof...confirmation that this is possible for them, and I want to give them that because when I was looking for it I couldn't find it. If they can't get to it, 1/2 my reason for writing is gone.

As I'm writing this post it's becoming clear to me what I'm going to do. I don't back down from people, it's just not in me. That's why I can't go into the Hollywood video on a certain street anymore...I just don't know when to close my mouth! Never have, probably never will...but it's OK, I love myself just the same. I don't usually say things about people that I can't/won't say to them directly, so defending myself won't be an issue. However, I write a lot of personal stuff, and one thing I don't like is having my business out in the some posts from my previous blog are probably going to be deleted/hidden as drafts. That sucks.

I feel vulnerable, but I refuse to be silenced.

My blog is a true representation of who I am and what I stand for. And one of the things I stand for, unwaveringly, is the advancement of poor black folks, especially through the avenue of post-secondary education. I think I'm completely under the radar of the school, but if that changes any time soon, I will just have to be who the hell I am and keep it movin'.

Midwives are strong women because they must always advocate for themselves and teach women how to do the same if they can not figure it out on their own. We are questioned incessantly, doubted by many, and the victims of unrelenting scrutiny at times. A sister from the class of 2007 said we are warrior women. So eventually I was going to have to learn how to lay my beliefs on the table and defend them as though my life depends on it. What better place to step cautiously into the water than this blog? What better time than the present?

I am minority midwifery student and I'm not going anywhere.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Can You Teach Me About Racism?

(sorry to put your comment on blast, SageFemme, but it's a good one, and I've heard it before!)

To be honest, the first thing I said when I read that question in the comments of the previous post was "as if!" Why? Because that's like asking "can you teach me about science?" Ummmm, what exactly about science? Science is so broad, it's all around us. This is why this post was so cumbersome to answer...there's just to much...where to start? A better method is to ask specific questions, like "what are some possible reasons that the maternal mortality rate is so much higher in black women than it is in white women?" or "how does white privilege play out in predominately white classrooms and what effect does it have on black students?" But I realize that's a slow process - asking one question at a time, plus, how do you know what questions to ask?!

I would hesitate to ask the question the way you asked it because the answer might be "it's not my job to teach you everything there is to know about racism." When I want to know about something that has to do with racism/discrimination/cultural preferences etc. I say something like this: In my culture it is so annoying/inappropriate to walk up and touch people's you find that annoying? Do you think it's generally annoying in your culture, too?" or "I read/heard from Mr. X that Z is you find that offensive, too?...because I don't want to offend people" Notice how I lead with "you", because if you say "do black people find that offensive?" what you're going to get is "well, I can't speak for all black people/the entire race, but..." and the assumption that one black person can speak for all black people is irritating because it implies that whoever is asking thinks that we're all alike. Or you could simply insert the word "some" into the question..."do some black people generally find X offensive..."

But even after having said all of the above, I must tell you; it's not people like you - people who are asking questions because they really want to know - that I find offensive. It's people who don't even want to know...or only want to know so that they can put you into some box that they've created.

But, let's move forward. In my opinion, the first step to being open to learning about racism is understanding the concept of white privilege. And I know it seems so simple, but you wouldn't believe how many people don't even believe it exists. Since you already know about that and are conscious of how it plays out in your life, let's move on. LaborPayne mentioned something about the mental toll on minorities when they're in predominately white settings/populations. The term used to describe some of what she's talking about is double consciousness. Understanding double consciousness might help one understand the mental exhaustion that sometimes comes out as anger and frustration in black folks. I would say most black people experiences this, even if they don't have the terminology to explain it, so that's a good place to start.

What exactly does this have to do with racism? Racism is very insidious, and the relentlessness of it affects people's (all people's) psyches, whether they know it/admit it or not. So racism (no matter which definition you use) is kind of a physical manifestation of all the ugly/negative things we think about a group of people...those people then turn around and internalize what is being said about/taught to/done to them. The act of trying to reconcile all that bullshit that you hear about yourself, with what you know to be true, is one aspect of double consciousness.

A good book for you to start with (because it is about both racism and women's reproductive rights/feminism etc - which, in my mind, means that you will really enjoy it! ;o) is Killing the Black Body. It really is an excellent book. (Also, because I didn't include sources in my last post, please note that you will find some of the info about forced sterilization there. And next time I will be sure to put up some sources for what I'm saying!)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

On My Mind

I'm still running on this train of thought:

Someone has to tell the truth. My truth, our truth.

If not me, who?

Black Women and Maternal Health Disparities

One of my biggest pet peeves in school is when professors throw up health disparity statistics without any explanation. They quote the numbers and don't ever mention how or why minorities are 2x, 3x, 4x worse off than other people. When you don't explain why these disparities exist, you imply that it is black folks themselves that are to blame for this situation, instead of a complex myriad of factors (including poor choices we make.) In fact, what you've done is blamed the victim.

If you look at this chart, you will see that black women are more likely to have unwanted pregnancies and less likely to receive early prenatal care. Our children are twice as likely to die after birth, and we are almost FOUR TIMES more likely to die in childbirth or right afterwards. We are more likely to be uninsured and about 2.5x more likely to be living in poverty. Ok, I gave you the stats...but I am not walking away...

This is not new information. In fact, the differences in maternal and child health between black and white women was documented starting way back in the early 1900s. So why is this still haunting us? If you're not afraid to hear what I have to say, keep reading. If you're not in the mood, or you want to stay in your happy go-lucky mood, come back later. But right now, I'm about to tell the truth as I see it, and sometimes the truth hurts.

As I see it, maternal health disparities can be "blamed" on a combination of these three things: history, resources, and education. Historically black women have had less control over their reproductive rights in this country. As slaves they were forced breeders, and after slavery they were routinely sterilized without their consent. There were times in this country when black women believed that birth control (such as pills) were really methods of sterilization that white people were trying to trick them into using. This is our (American) history. Is it any wonder why we are less likely to seek out care from the medical establishment? And then when we do, we are treated differently. There are many, many articles about the difference in care black people receive when they do seek medical attention. So here is the moment of it not possible that the reason our outcomes are worse is because our treatment is worse? Of course it is. But this requires people to step up and claim their bias, and who wants to do that? Why are we expected to continually subject ourselves to sub-standard care, pregnant or not? People will say "substandard care is better than no care," but I say not always. If the only thing you can offer me is your brand new med student who really didn't want this site in the first place, a 2 hour wait in a crowded waiting room with absolutely no privacy, a 5 minute glance over after a MA takes my vitals and a nurse takes my history, thank you but no thank you. I'll skip the stress and take my chances.

Why am I putting up with this? Because I don't have much of a choice...I am lacking resources. Why am I lacking resources? Because, still, in 2007, black people are three times more likely to live in poverty than white people. (24.3% vs 8.2%) What does this have to do with health care? Well, there might not be a community clinic in my neighborhood, and if there is one I might not be able to get to it. The most poisonous facilities are in my neighborhood, the food is not as fresh in the grocery store, and there are no parks nearby. What are you going to tell me when I get to my appointment (if I get to my appointment)? Eat well, walk around/exercise, get fresh air! I'm being facetious, but you get the point. In case you don't, let me say it simply: It's frustrating to go to an appointment when you know what you're supposed to do but can't really get it done because you're overwhelmed with life in general. The provider thinks, "she only had to get some prenatal vitamins, that was the only goal of the visit!" but the girl starts in with this story..."see, my boyfriend/mama/uncle/best friend brought me here today and I told him/her it would be an hour at the most, but really it was two, and so when I went outside I couldn't ask him/her to take me to get the vitamins because (s)he was already mad and...." and on and on and on. The hood sets you up to internalize this never-ending cycle of hopelessness/helplessness/victimology that is really hard to shake. I think some of the disparities we describe in racial terms are really disparities based on socioeconomic status, but because black people are disproportionately poor, it comes out as racial statistics.

Could our maternal mortality be higher because we receive higher number of unnecessary c-sections? If women on medicaid are more likely to receive unnecessary c-sections and we are disproportionately represented...wouldn't that put us at higher risk for maternal death? We need to educate ourselves about our bodies and our rights. We must take responsibility for some of the problem because we do not take the time to educate ourselves. Maybe we just have to acknowledge and accept that being pregnant is a sacrifice in terms of working a little harder to eat a little better and walk a little more, because some of this is due to to our lifestyle, and no even if we can't eat the best, we can eat better, and even if there is no park, there is indoor movement. Now is not the time to be complacent and frustrated, no matter how true it is that the odds are against us. Complacent and frustrated does not find you a good provider.

I am becoming a midwife because I believe no one is going to rescue my community. I believe the community has to rescue itself. One day in my journal I wrote "wake up girl, the cavalry ain't comin." That's a hard truth to swallow because it means you stop expecting your equal rights, your access to good care. You hope for it, but you prepare for what's in front of you (or better yet, you prepare based on the history that's behind you) and you stop waiting for someone to come and say "I'm sorry, here's that shyt I owe you. Your fertility, your right to a safe birth, your dignity." Instead, you break your back trying to become somebody, anybody, so that you can pick up a broom, a pen, a case file, a stethoscope or a speculum and rescue your community your damn self.

Maternal health disparities exist because we allow them to. We allow them to because the women who are dying are no longer valuable to us. History says if we still needed them to plow our fields, clean our houses, or feed our babies from their breasts, they would not be dying.

We would not allow it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I Don't Know How Else to Say It

It happened to me again today.

I almost smacked someone. Instead I sat very still and silent.

I don't have anything else to say.

Here's a link to Barbabra Walter's doing it to two black women:

At this point I'm trying to decide if I'm going to say anything to this group of people...because I know that the next time it happens I am going to go off like we do where I come from....

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Pull It Together

I can't seem to get myself into an effective working/studying mode. I am studying narrowly and haphazardly, my class are at irregular times, and I feel discombobulated. I start work tonight (at the library). I usually have 3 hours of study time at work...maybe that will help.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Crab Bake

The man and I went to his family's place for a crab bake. This is an actual picture from the day! His family lives a good 5-6 hours away from where we are, but my friend says she can do it in 4.5 - but that's leaving at the crack of dawn with very little traffic...

I found a car I like, now I just gotta wait on the man who's selling it to call me back...
There's so much more, but I'm tired. School deserves its own post, and I'll do it later.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Crockpots and Pregnancy Wheels

We were given our pregnancy wheels was a moment! I thought, this is mine...I'm going to be using it...not just for fun...for real...
Anyway. I should buy my books. I've been wavering because we never use the books (story of a college student's life!) But the beautiful hardback "I am a midwife" ones really need to be on my shelf.
My clinical, although not final, is more than likely going to be at a local university's women's health center (ie: immunizations, birth control, STI counseling, & pelvic exams mostly) I was told, "at your clinic, you will get to know normal" and that's perfectly fine with me!
Today I had a four hour break between classes (arrrgh) and I went home to fix the man dinner during the break time. Chialing asked if I use a Crockpot, the answer is **YES** absolutely! In fact, I have TWO and sometimes use them both at the same time (think greens in one and ribs in the other) The problem is that I use them TOO much! LOL Just last week the man said "I can not take another crokpot piece of meat; I want fried chicken!" I had to laugh and give in because it had been so long since I fried chicken! I love my red crockpot!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

12 Hours

That's how long my school day was today:

8am-11am: Advanced Physical Assessment
11-12noon: Lunch
12-3pm: Adv. Assess. LAB
3:30-5:20: Research
5:30-7:45: Stats Exam

I will normally get out at 5 on Tuesdays, today was an exception. But also, I will hopefully be working on Tuesday evenings from 6 to 10, so I won't get home until 10:15! I'm tired. And I realized a few things at the end of the day:
  • Tuesdays the man will have to find his own dinner
  • I need to have a real breakfast in the morning, and take a lunch AND a dinner (if I'm working) AND a snack (or two) to school w/ me on Tuesdays
  • The above guarantees that I have to get up a 1/2 hour earlier and make sure I cook something substantial Sunday or Monday so that I actually have something to take. Just typing this is giving me a headache...
  • If I don't write down what time I'm studying and what I'm studying each day/week, I will fall behind very quickly

The good news: I like my assessment teacher so far, and I happen to have her for lab, too. Research class is "purposely" an easy Pass. I was smart yesterday and cooked the sausage for my spaghetti that we're having tonight, so dinner was a breeze. My clothes are ready for tomorrow. My stress was manageable today.

Nursing school is in full swing.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Don't Touch My Hair

First, some background: The midwifery students had our orientation last Wednesday. There are 16 of us in my class, 3 of which are black and 1 who is latina. (Yes, it was a record year for the school) Me and my friend sit together in every class. The other black girl sits far, far away in the front of the room, but because she was one of the last ones to come in the room this day (and because it was a very small room) she sat in one of the few open happened to be in between me and "the" latina (yeah, I know, I hate this too). As soon as she sat down I realized it. I thought "oh my, we're sitting in a row, we're going to look like we're segregating ourselves" despite the fact that we were all in a very small room, with desks arranged in a circle.

Back to now, my friend went out 2 nights ago and was cornered by a drunk white girl from our class. Here's some of what she said during the very long conversation:

"Why do the black girls sit together in the class?"
"I want to step out of my socioeconomic status and learn about those different than my own."
"You and X should talk more in class because there's so much I want to know."
"I just feel like there's a divide. I don't want there to be."
"I've been the minority before - I went to Kenya."

and on and on and on, followed by:

"I feel so much better now."

Now, first of all, my friend happens to come from a background similar to most others in this program...and so does the other black girl in the class! And for the record, I'm talking boarding school followed by Ivy undergrad for one of 'em. So of course there's this moment where she says she realized that this girl assumed that because she was black she was also poor, and that pissed her off.

Other than that, how does one propose we don't sit together in room of 25ish chairs and 17 or so people? Purposely sit every other chair? LOL Then there's the fact that these *&%$ have private midwifery dinners that none of the 4 of us have ever been invited to...and they even have inside jokes and conversations IN CLASS about stuff that is obviously said at these little dinners they host among themselves. What does segregation mean again? Damn right there's a divide, and YA'LL created it the first time you invited only some of our class to your home.

All of this crap at the bar was made worse by the fact that the whole time she was talking she had her damn hands in my friends braids. More background: the night before this night, our school met up for happy hour. I had to physically remove this girl's hand from my head! On the walk over I had just gave my class credit (only me and two friends walked over together) for not touching my hair the whole day, and lo' and behold this chick comes up and grabs my hair. I have dreads, and I know that many people are curious because they have never felt them before. But in case those reading don't know, do not ever walk up to a black girl and commence to putting your hands in her hair...dont pull the spring to see what happens...don't pat the afro, or otherwise touch it. For real, I'm trying to help you. We don't like to be patted on the head or otherwise touched like what you see is rare; I aint no monkey and this aint no pettin zoo. Further, unlike most european hairstyles, if you mess with our hair, it isn't necessarily going to just fall back into place. A fro takes a long time to get even in the morning...some people spend a good hour trying to get that hair to lay down "right" for that flat iron. My husband would like to add "do NOT rub your fingers on the cornrows either!" Ok back to the story:

This girl who did this was at the bar the night before when this happened to me, and she was there for the subsequent teaching moment about not doing this, yet there she was feeling all over my friend's hair.

There's so much I can say about this, but I'm getting off my soap box. This is basically what I would like these girls to know:

Just because we're all black or brown, it doesn't mean we have the same backgrounds.

Before you ask why we're sitting together, ask yourselves why you're sitting together.

Just because my socioeconomic background is different than yours, it doesn't mean that I'm going to be speaking for all the poor black people of the world.

You spendin a summer in Africa is not the equivalent of me livin in this brown skin forever.

It's gonna be a long school year if you think that you're just going to come up and dump all your shyt at my feet. I am not here to help you with white guilt, make you feel comfortable around black people, answer all your questions about brown people, or be anybody you think I should be.

We can learn a lot from each other, but this isn't how to start it off right. Please keep your hands to yourself, get to know me before you ask me personal questions, and tell yourself the truth about what's really happening in the classroom.

Saturday, September 1, 2007