NAACP’s Shavon Arline-Bradley on Black Health
1 year ago
"It was a no-brainer for me to be involved in a 100-year-old organization that had never lost its brand name."
The second thing in terms of cultivating leadership is in being our own advocates. One thing about health reform and persons that are under a doctor’s care, you cannot get quality care unless you know how to advocate for yourself. And so cultivating leadership means navigating the healthcare system, knowing your rights as a patients, knowing the rights of the seniors that you care of, knowing the rights of your children, ensuring that you get the right testing, ensuring that you’re not being profiled, or people assume that you have a certain medical condition because of the color of your skin or because of your socioeconomic background. So it’s essential for African Americans especially to look at who is taking care of their health, and that they look to African-American doctors and other doctors of color—and I’m going to say women too—and hold them accountable to make sure that they get the best care.
[ALSO READ: Black Women Weigh in on Birth Control Debate]
Loop 21: What do you wish you’d known before you stepped on this battlefield?
Arline-Bradley: How connected I was going to be. I wish I would have know how to separate my feelings from this work! I When you do this work every day, it affects you. It takes 100% of you to be committed, and I knew that, but I didn’t know the magnitude of what it would pull from me. I also wish I would have known how tough this world is in reference to people’s perceptions of you based on the color of your skin and the amount of money you make. Again, you know this stuff in theory, but you start to get the real deal when you work for NAACP, you start to see people’s true feelings, the hate, and the disrespect. I have very tough skin, but you do get connected to the work and you have to learn how to just say, you know what, I’ve gotta stop for a minute, I’ve gotta take care of my own self, and I’ve gotta practice what I preach about my own health. That’s what I wish I’d known going in.
Loop 21: If readers can do just one thing to aid in the fight, what should they do?
Arline-Bradley: They’ve gotta say something. We can no longer allow readers just to read something and not do. So call your legislators. Find out what health issues affect your community. Find out what’s happening in your schools. It’s all connected. A lot of time people don’t act because they don’t know they’re supposed to act. So join your local branch! Get involved, speak out against injustice. Don’t allow things to just pass. That’s a big problem that we see n the community. Folks just—it’s been this way for years, and we just allow things to stay this way. No, become an activist. And that can mean something as small as writing a letter, something as big as having a march, soothing as small as making a phone call. I mean it all means something. I need your readers to also know that you’re never too young, and never too old to become an activist, to care. Folks question our relevance, it’s not about relevance, it’s about the realities of what’s happening in America and we’re getting a chance to see how blatant racism is, how blatant hate is, how blatant sexism and classism are, and we need people to fight back. Join us!