Tuesday, June 2, 2020

I Am Not Okay

I am not okay.

As a black woman, mother, and physician during the era of COVID-19, to say I am tired and overwhelmed at the moment would be an understatement. In just the past two months alone, I (and so many others like myself) have had to navigate the many emotions involved with trying to understand the loss of so many black lives. Black lives lost by being shot by police while peacefully sleeping at home (Breonna Taylor), being shot by civilians while taking a daily morning jog (Ahmaud Arbery), not being able to breathe due to asphyxiation caused by an officer compressing an individual's neck with his knee (George Floyd), and lives lost due to the many racial health disparities that continue to plague this country (the thousands of black individuals who have died as a result of COVID-19).

The only way to truly understand the loss of these lives is to acknowledge the longstanding history of systemic racism within this country, and actively work to change the system. Unfortunately, I do not see this change occurring any time soon. What I see instead, are those who refuse to acknowledge their privilege, but are okay with the status quo, as long as it does not directly affect them. Individuals who are absolutely silent about the murders of black people, but are vocal about the looting and protests. Biased preliminary autopsy reports released to protect murderers and deflect from the victim's primary cause of death. Individuals who try to justify these murders by bringing up something the victim may have down in their earlier years (we all have a past) or by saying that these deaths could have been prevented if the victims simply acted a certain way. I see myself, fearful that I would have the same demise as Sandra Bland, a few weeks ago, when I was not only followed for 15 minutes by a police officer, but then pulled over and questioned about why I was driving in a certain neighborhood (I was going to visit my parents, and doing nothing wrong...hence the lack of finding a reason to give me a ticket). I also see people who don't believe that racism exists simply because they have not experienced it in their small bubble of a world.

I think what gets to me most though is the apathy, indifference, and ignorance displayed by some of my peers/colleagues. Being completely silent about these injustices speaks volumes to me. Focusing solely on the protests and riots while ignoring the root causes behind them tells me exactly where you stand. Saying you're not racist, but being quick to say things like "all lives matter" (which if were true, we wouldn't have to remind you that black lives are included in that too), "these people" (we know who you're referring to), or referring to those who are protesting as "thugs" shows me your thinly veiled racism. And if I'm being completely honest, asking me to explain to you why people are upset, highlights your privilege and shows me your lack of motivation to do the work and find out for yourself.

During this time, I worry that things will only get worse for people of color. That if a surge of COVID-19 cases occurs in the next few weeks (yes, we're still dealing with a pandemic!), Black Lives Matter protesters will be blamed and not the many people who decided to party it up for Memorial Day weekend (and let's not forget those who protested with rifles about being quarantined and having to wear a mask). I also worry that while some are trying to prove they are allies at the moment, in a few weeks they will forget about these events and go back to life as usual.

If you're wondering what emotion I feel the most right now, it is sadness. I am sad that no matter how many degrees, accomplishments, or accolades I have, I will always be judged first by the color of my skin. Sad that I have thoughts of being thankful that I am not raising a son during this time (I would be even more heartbroken), and even sadder for my five brothers and the other men in my family who will always have it worse than I do. I am sad that I have to have these painful conversations with my daughter who will likely grow up to raise a family and experience the same fears that I have now. Sad that I have little faith in a system designed to "protect and serve" and even sadder that I felt compelled to write this post.

So if you really care to know, I am not okay, haven't been (unfortunately events like the ones mentioned above are nothing new), and probably won't be for a long time. I am exhausted from constantly hiding my sadness behind a smile, exhausted from having to be pleasant in order to make others feel more comfortable (or else I get labeled as "aggressive" or an "angry black woman"...but that is a totally different topic), exhausted from dealing with individuals who smile in my face, but make it clear in other ways that I am not wanted, and exhausted, because even through all of the current turmoil, I still have to fulfill my duties as a physician even if that means caring for and saving the lives of those who hate me.

I think I'll leave it at that, but please respect my need to vent during this time. This post was not meant to be informational, but instead it was written as a way to somewhat help me process a very small amount of my inner thoughts. It's just all a bit too much to deal with right now.

“To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time. ” - James Baldwin

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

I wrote a book! Atypical Premed Available Now!!!!

Click the picture to buy now!

I am excited to announce that I finally wrote and published my first book!

I have teased about writing a book over the past few years, but for various reasons I never finished the process. Well, it's a new decade and a great reason to stop procrastinating, so I finally got it done.

Writing this book was certainly not easy! I not only wrote the book, but completely self published meaning I was responsible for making sure every aspect was complete from finding an editor to book cover design to even creating the ebook and finding a distributor (please don't punish me on the ebook formatting...that was the hardest part!). I have developed a new respect for all authors out there, especially ones who self publish. It was a completely new world for me, and I was definitely out of my comfort zone, but I am happy with the final result.

So what is the book about?  

Atypical Premed: A Non-Traditional student's Guide to Applying to Medical School is filled with advice, tips, and my own personal experiences to both guide and encourage students from all backgrounds who are interested in pursuing a medical career. Whether you are overcoming low GPA and/or MCAT scores, a single parent, changing careers, involved in the military, an older (or even younger) student, or involved in anything else that does not fit the typical view of an entering medical student—if you plan on applying to medical school, this book will have something for you.

In full disclosure, I will also say that the majority of my book comes from previous blog posts that have been edited to reflect my current status as a physician. This means you can still find answers to your most frequently asked questions within my blog since I have always been an advocate for affordable and/or free resources for premedical students. I am also open to feedback and suggestions so that I can create updated editions in the future to reflect the needs of current premedical students.

So surreal having a book with my name on it!

Help Atypical Premed reach #1!

Atypical Premed is available now in both paperback and Kindle ebook versions on Amazon, and can be purchased by clicking HERE. The book will also be available through major book retailers such as Barnes & Noble in the coming weeks (or you can request it directly at your local bookstore to get it faster), and I plan on putting out an audiobook version in the coming months.

For those of you who may already be medical students or physicians, my book would make a great gift for your mentees. For the premedical students, my book is an excellent starting point to helping you on the path to becoming a physician, and it was written by someone who has already went through the process (me!). I would be more than honored if you all would buy my book, take pictures of yourselves with the book, and post using the hashtag #AtypicalPremed. I not only want to hear your stories, but I want my book to reach those who may need it the most. I would also love it if those who buy the book would leave me a 5 star review on Amazon so that others may find it too (note: Amazon gives more weight to verified purchases when leaving reviews).

Win a free signed copy of Atypical Premed!

Giveaway Alert!

If you're tight on money, I have great news! I am offering the ebook version of Atypical Premed free for the next 24hours, and will have a few more free promotion days over the next couple of months. The ebook is also free indefinitely for Kindle Unlimited subscribers. As for the paperback version, I am giving away signed copies of my book to five lucky readers. All you have to do is the following:

- Follow me on Instagram
- "Like" the post on Instagram with the above picture of me holding the book
- Tag two friends in the Instagram post with this picture
- Extra points if you comment under this blog post and tell me what makes you an "Atypical Premed"

*Giveaway ends Monday, January 20, 2020 at 12am EST
*Multiple entries allowed with additional tagged friends
*Winner will be randomly selected and announced in both my Instagram comments and story section in addition to receiving a DM

Thank you so much for inspiring me to reach another goal, and I hope you all enjoy my book!

Monday, January 13, 2020

Featured on CBS46 News Atlanta

My first television appearance!

Happy New Year!!!! Last week I was given the opportunity to discuss the recent flu spike and its impact in Georgia on CBS46 News. 

I honestly had no idea I would be doing a news segment when I went to work that morning, and only had a few minutes to prepare for filming which took place in between seeing patients, but I'm always more than happy to educate my community. 

It was definitely a fun experience, and I look forward to doing more in the future. I am including it on the blog so that I have a fun memory to look back on. Plus, who knows? I may even get a chance to become a featured medical correspondent on national news one day ;) 

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