Blog

The posts featured below are archived blogs from my first website, Rhea.MD. The selections reflect the writing that helped me hone my voice as a clinician + advocate.

A New Kind of Feminism

Sheryl Sandberg recently published a book entitled Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead that some have touted as a rebirth of the American feminist movement. Others, disagree. As an African-American pediatrician, I find the idea that women need to lean in to institutional positions of leadership to exert influence, problematic. It ignores the […]

And so it begins (my very first blog)

The road to be a doctor is fraught with many dangers, toils, and snares (through many of which I’ve already come). Now, 7th months shy of another ending, I feel ready and yet totally unprepared for what lies ahead. It’s not that I feel clinically unprepared (although I know I still have a lot to […]

The Public Voice

What does it mean to speak publicly about issues you care about? If you tweet a link to an article you finding interesting, is that an implicit endorsement? If I “like” your status update or change my profile picture to a red equal sign, am I a better friend or advocate? What is the “like” […]

Trayvon

Though much has been said, I feel a need to publicly recognize what has happened. Publicly. For when time has pacified our resolve and memory fails to do justice to the pain we felt, and new problems have filled our consciousness, so in that space, in that unformed future, even there, there is some record, […]

Where Implicit Bias Fails

The implicit bias frame does not offer equity. It offers absolution from complicity in systems that harm people. And yet, individuals, organizations, and institutions continue to use the implicit bias frame to make sense of inequity and to address it. Take police violence, for example. In the face of the devastating and disproportionate toll police […]

Charlottesville

The torch-bearing, violence-streaked march of white nationalists through Charlottesville, Virginia yesterday, is terrifying. Present tense. Thanks HBO, but turns out we don’t need a fictionalized, revisionist look at the confederacy to imagine an America where Robert E. Lee is a hero, worthy of defense by militias and crowds shouting “blood and soil.” We get it […]

What We Talk About When We Talk To Our Kids About Racism

During the 2016 election, Americans opened a public discourse that sparked new and old fears, evoked unsettling and painful emotions, and surfaced certain real and perceived divides. When elections center solutions in the background to highlight problems in the foreground, it can be distracting and confusing, for adults and kids alike. Post-election, often those intensities fade. But this time, […]

Dying While Black

Each year, as our nation reflects on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I look for contemporary signs of change, examples of how we as a society have evolved in our understanding of race and how and where African-Americans have folded deeper into the American story and been embraced by the […]

Equal Pay, Now

Today is Equal Pay Day, or the day that marks how many extra days the average US woman must work into 2014, to earn as much as her average male counterpart in 2013. Given this momentous occasion to spotlight gender wage inequality in America, let’s take a brief look at the wage gap, why it […]

Oh, sweet Maya

Dr. Maya Angelou’s words decorate the walls of our classrooms, fete the ceremonies of presidents, and illuminate the conscience of a nation. By formal account, she was a poet, playwright, memoirist, dancer, singer, stage actress, streetcar conductor, single mother, college professor, civil rights activist, and cultural humanitarian. But, perhaps most importantly, she was ours. With […]

Who’s Hungry?

It is no secret that growing income inequality is one of the major issues facing the nation today. Close to 50 million Americans, or 1 in 6, live in poverty and 1 in 3 children are now projected to live in poverty at some point in their lifetime. But did you know, up to 1 […]

Teaching Structural Competency and the Perils of Pretending

Earlier this year, I started teaching a course to first year pediatric residents at Stanford. In it, I challenge the trainees to identify the structural contexts in which patients and families make choices that may impact their health and well-being. Termed structural competency, the goal is to enable young physicians to understand and confront stigma […]

Is Civic Engagement the New Frontier of Physician Advocacy?

The figure is simple. Health care plays, at best, a minor, and at worst, a relatively inconsequential role in reducing early death in America. That means, where people live and how they function in their local environment, potentially matters more to their long-term survival than what doctor they go to, or what medicines they are […]

Fighting for Failing Care: How Hospital Closures May Impact the Safety Net

In the post-Affordable Care Act healthcare landscape, sweeping hospital closures have created new barriers to access in a system already criticized for its fragmentation and saturation. Looking back over the past 20 years, urban hospitals, and urban trauma centers in particular, bore the brunt of this impact, closing at the highest rates in the country. […]

On Ferguson: A Call to Medicine

There is little to say once you’ve said this before. Although the sadness brings fresh tears, they are also old tears. The grief becomes familiar and so too the inevitable resumption of everyday life. The pain bores to the soul but settles in the subconscious, where it rests, privately born and quietly hidden, lest frustration […]

Walter Scott and a Pediatrician’s Conscience

The recent killing of Walter Scott was another brutal reminder of the home African-Americans wake to daily. Their America, is one where your father might not come home at night, because his brake light went out and that cost him his life. It’s a place where petty crimes are penalized by life sentences, doled out […]

Protest as Plea: The Uncivil Fight for Community Rights

As Baltimore erupts in fiery protest following the death of Freddie Gray, the city joins scores of others who have recently challenged the role of police in community. With the disproportionate representation of Black males in the correctional system and the videotaped deaths of those approached by police for seemingly petty infractions, the longstanding concern […]

Black on Black Crime: Let’s Talk About It

After publishing a few pieces on police violence, public health and safety, I received a number of comments asserting the “real” problem is black on black crime. I get this a lot. So let’s talk about it. According to the numbers, the most recent of which come from the FBI’s 2014 crime report, the critics […]

Freeing the “Doc in a Box”

The American healthcare system is set up to care for a certain subset of the population – sick people – people with chronic disease, acute illness, acute injury, and complex disorders like cancer or metabolic issues. The problem is, this set up doesn’t create market incentives to care for the well effectively, or to identify those […]

#JusticeForFlint

In April 2014, Flint transferred its water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River. It was meant to be a temporizing, cost-saving measure. But what followed was one of the most devastating recent failures of public infrastructure and a heartbreaking example of how social inequity ultimately leads to public health crises. To quantify just […]

Towards Equity-Centered Care

A “Health in All Policies” framework has been touted in the past few years as a strategy to illuminate the intersections between public health and other areas of civic life. It’s one way to incorporate health metrics into existing and proposed public policy – from education to transportation. But the question is, will it work? […]

Viral Violence and the Challenge for Public Safety

As the screens we carry narrow our proximity to random and targeted acts of violence, many parents and families are rightfully questioning the impact viral violence has on shared perceptions of public safety and child health. In pediatrics, we have long considered the link between media, violence and health. We know kids who watch fake violence in […]

Police Violence and Public Health: What We Know

What does it mean to understand police violence from a public health lens? It starts with understanding how police behaviors can result in harm and who is most affected. In the Cure Violence podcast link below, I introduce what I term adverse police exposures, or a conceptual framework to understand how harmful police behaviors can […]

My Anger

Although I write a blog that centers people of color in exploring the connections between the medical system and race  – an activity that has always been fundamentally personal – I rarely discuss how it personally affects me. The occasions in which I have, were driven by my need to make sense of Trayvon and […]