Dr. Regina Benjamin is President Obama's pick for Surgeon General of the U.S. I wish I knew more about her before today (and from what I've read, she ought to be more famous, but at least now she is), but I'm tentatively extremely excited
There's a nice article about her from the Atlanta Journal Constitution
that doesn't really do her justice.
I read the article about her in the Washington Post.
(Only those with incredibly strong stomachs are advised, at their own risk, to read the comments. It doesn't matter how many Sanity Watchers points you might have.)
However, what I found most moving was the transcript from the announcement
Here's what she said that made me possibly the most excited:
"These are trying times in the health care field. And as a nation, we have reached a sobering realization: Our health care system simply cannot continue on the path that we're on. Millions of Americans can't afford health insurance, or they don't have the basic health services available where they live. I went back home to Alabama as part of my obligation to the National Health Service Corps. It's a program that provides underserved communities in America with qualified clinicians. The National Health Service Corps paid for my medical school education, and in return placed me in an area that desperately needed physicians, and I stayed."
To those saying she doesn't have public health experience -- I say, well, I've deleted what I was going to say, but I'll say this: Public health is a very big field, and the firsthand experience she has is worth more to me, a public health professional, than someone who has sat in an ivory tower churning out research from databases. She rebuilt her clinic three times
, twice after hurricanes and once after a fire burned it down. The National Health Service Corps is
That said, the fact that she is black, from Alabama, female and appears fat is about to shine a spotlight the intersections of race, class, sexism and fatphobia. I read through the comments on the Washington Post article, and the racism and classism and sexism are sickening. Yes, people are making comments about her size. But the comments about the fact that she is black, and being from Alabama, she couldn't possibly understand the problems facing this country.
Here's are a couple examples from the Washington Post article, the second by the same commenter about an hour later:
"..why did obama select this woman from podunk clinic , elsewhere..she has no experience in epidemics..i am afraid obama's zeal to appoint the first fillintheblankwithgenderandorrace for all things important is causing him to miss out on opportunities to truly make worthwhile change."
"she certainly looks overweight..if obama wants to replace health care in the country, i think he should have picked someone who does not appear to be on the verge of a heart attack/stroke and/or diabetes due to life style choices.. .. ..even more disturbing is her lack of experience in epidemiology..the h1n1 awaits, and she has experience with epidemiology..i don't want an ojt surgeon general."
My therapist, PhDCoachy said something the other day about people who yell things out of cars. He said that if someone yelled at you from a car, and you were to follow them around for the rest of the day, you would notice a pattern. In other words, they probably aren't only yelling at you.