Kendra Outler, MD, MPH
Founder, Uzima Health & Wellness
Why I wrote it?
I remember writing a piece for my senior English class about watching a holy ghost filled woman move down the aisle at a gospel concert. She was shaking her hips and her arms were flapping and head moving in rhythm and her feet carried her back and forth until there was no music; only screams and shouts were left. When I finished reading, my favorite English teacher, who was a petite white woman with sparkling blues eyes, gave me an incredulous gasp. Our worlds were very different.
As I write my pieces in Uzima Health and Wellness, I am over the fear of sharing my experience and views on medicine, health and race. Whether we are separated by socioeconomics or ethnicity, we can find common ground. We just have to be open to the conversation.
Do the Right Thing: I wrote this piece reflecting on how over the last twenty years we have divested in public health infrastructure. We have closed massive public health hospitals; now faced with a pandemic, we need more hospital beds and healthcare workers. Gentrification has come with unintended consequences. The one thing we need now more than ever is a strong public health system.
There are No Children Here: This was a reflection piece on the case of Relisha Rudd, who went missing from a DC shelter that was formerly a beacon of training for Black doctors. Every year in March there is a campaign to continue to look for her, because of COVID-19 she and other vulnerable children will remain lost and unaccounted for.
Finding Fozie Lee: Stroke awareness and maternal morbidity and mortality month deserve a lot of focus. Recently, Allyson Felix, Beyoncè and Serena Williams all lent their star power to advance the conversation of Black women dying at higher rates during childbirth due to health disparities and racism in maternity wards. This was written in remembrance of all the women who have lost their own lives to give life.
Dear Renita: This was a difficult piece for me to write. I wrote it years ago to help remember every detail of Renita. It was the start of a book. I wanted to talk about a woman in my college cafeteria who helped me get through college. It broke my heart when her breast cancer ended up being triple negative breast disease. The progression of her disease showed me how difficult it is for certain populations to get access to good health care and that includes end of life care.
The Charge To Care In Healthcare: The United States’ medical system is an unequal healthcare system. The system is steeped in racism and bias. Maybe Black patients can pay a tax to ensure they are treated fairly. It is a matter of life and death.
I am Flint: The Winter Storm of February 2021 brought record low temperatures that created power outages and water shortages in Houston, Texas. This went on for days. Seeing the lines for water in poor areas of the city, Houston began to look Flint, Michigan. I revisited the history of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan and discovered environmental racism.
Say Her Name: It’s simple. I never want people to forget Dr. Susan Moore. She told the truth on her death bed about how she was being treated. Her life and death is a case study for the American medical community no matter what race you are.
Me, My, Grief and I: I wanted to explore the idea of comparative suffering and grief. COVID-19 brought in a season of loss but Black people were still dying of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other preventable diseases.
Fish Boat Girl: During discussions on COVID-19 obesity emerged as a major risk factor to succumbing to the disease, I thought about all the fast food in our communities. My research uncovered works by the Professors Nii Oyo Kwate of Rutgers University, and Marica Chatelain of Georgetown University; both help us to understand the history and negative impact of fast food restaurants in our neighborhoods. I also reflect on my family’s Fish Fry restaurant off of Martin Luther King Boulevard in Houston.
We Are Young Gifted and Black: The pandemic has made the urgency to produce more Black doctors critical. In this article we explore the topic with prominent leaders in Military Medicine. We need to examine all the factors making this mission difficult.