Minehaha Forman is a freelance writer living in Detroit. Born on a farm in Belize, Central America, she moved to the U.S. to pursue higher education and a career in writing. Forman’s work has been featured in many metro Detroit publications including Dbusiness magazine, Hour magazine and Corp! magazine. She has provided event coverage for Real Times Media and The Michigan Chronicle for three years, covering the popular Pancakes and Politics speaker series and other events. Prior to working with the Chronicle, Forman was a blogger with The American Independent News Network where she covered Metro Detroit politics and the 2008 presidential election. She will continue to provide commentary and coverage of Detroit politics as a blogger and feature writer for The Michigan Chronicle’s website.
Website URL: http://truthordarestories.blogspot.com/
Every week is a new start. A new chance to get it right. The weekend reset button kicks in and by Monday hopefully things look a little better. At least that’s the case for the political climate in the City of Detroit.
Last week this time the fur was flying around a lawsuit that challenged the legality of the consent agreement. Since then the lawsuit was tossed, and the City Council immediately appointed the remaining members of the 9-meember financial advisory team. The team is set to turnaround city finances as part of the controversial consent agreement with the state. Phew. A lot can change in a week.
Looking at the complete list of appointees, the first thing I noticed was that many of them, seven out of nine are not from Detroit. Board members hail from the Metro Detroit suburbs such as Novi, Bloomfield Hills, Franklin, Birmingham and so on.
As a Detroiter, my knee-jerk response was "These are outsiders!" But after setting aside the involuntary Detroit-centric mentality, this actually seems promising. Speaking of new starts and clean slates, why not get outside opinions on city finances? Detroit has been mismanaging money for years and to put it nicely, "insiders" haven't been doing a great job at holding the city together.
There comes a point when we have to stop pointing fingers as citizens and stay engaged in the turnaround process by not only holding these board members accountable, but also by holding ourselves accountable for our own city. We have to shrug the "us vs. them" mentality that too often stifles progress.
Just when the legal showdown over the Detroit consent agreement was escalating to a special kind of crazy, the show is over: But not before Mayor Dave Bing hired a private lawyer to fight his own city's law department. Really, you can't make this stuff up.
Ingham County Circuit Judge William Collette ended what could have been a long and nasty battle between the city and, well, itself. On Wednesday afternoon Collette immediately tossed the lawsuit brought by Detroit’s top lawyer Krystal Crittendon without hesitation.
“This lawsuit will not go forward. I saw it from the very first moment."
Now the City Council can appoint the final members of the financial advisory board that will ultimately take over financial decisions for the city.
But will Krystal Crittendon and the protestors of the consent agreement fade off into the sunset? Not likely. If it wasn't such a serious issue that affected my city, I'd grab a bowl of popcorn and call it entertainment.
When Dr. Earlexia Norwood was 28 years old, she went to a dermatologist with her husband after experiencing post partum hair loss.
The skin doctor had one question for her: “Is this your pimp?” He asked, nodding toward her husband and donning gloves before using pencils to examine her scalp without touching it.
It didn’t occur to that doctor, a white male, that a black woman could be anything but a prostitute, let alone a Doctor. But at the time Norwood was a doctor herself, constantly fighting stereotypes and blazing trails for blacks in healthcare.
Today, Norwood is the physician in charge at the Troy Medical Center and President of OPAL—an organization dedicated in supporting African America leaders in health and sciences for Ford Health Systems.
Norwood shared this chilling experience of discrimination in healthcare at the unveiling of Real Times Media’s inaugural publication of Vital Signs: A tribute to African Americans in the Healthcare Industry last night.
Sadly, she said her story is far from unique, even today. “Most people that this kind of thing happens to are not doctors, they don’t have the letters PH.D behind their names,” she said. That’s why most people who face similar discrimination, especially when it comes to something as personal as healthcare, shrink into the shadows of embarrassment after such an encounter instead of fighting it, she added.
“We need culturally sensitive care and to make sure we never stereotype patients,” Norwood said. “We need people who understand our community, our people.”
The Vital Signs book unveiling party was appropriately held at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African History and served as a call to action among leading African Americans in the healthcare field.
Dr. Patricia Maryland, President and CEO of the St. John Providence Healthcare System, in an impassioned speech, told the crowd that the Vital Signs book is a crucial tool to organize black healthcare leaders. It also brings fresh diverse minds into the field of medicine and can be used to treat the "vital signs" of a stuggling community. She listed some grave statistics on the state of black health in Michigan, calling the health disparity between whites and blacks “startling”.
“We’ve got to bring more African Americans into the medical field. Cultural competence to deal with patients who are of African America heritage,” she said:
- The Mortality rate is 27 percent higher in African Americans than in Caucasian Americans
- African Americans are twice as likely to get diabetes than their Caucasian counterparts.
- The infant mortality rate in African Americans in Michigan is three times (3x!) as high as Caucasian Americans
“Take this book and use it,” Maryland urged, noting that the Vital Signs publication identifies the key black leaders in the field between its covers and in doing so makes these faces more accessible to black youth as mentors. The book also makes black healthcare leaders aware of their network so it’s much easier to collaborate for a healthier community.
“This book has the power of bringing us all together and identifying us. Now we have to figure out how to work together on changing some of these numbers,” Maryland said in her speech. She called for a “strategic forum” to organize around bringing more blacks into the field and collaborating to fight the health crisis. “How can we work together? That’s the call to action,” Maryland said.
Maryland ended her speech with a reference to Dr. Martin Luther King’s vision: “If you don’t feel good you can’t accomplish much,” she said. “His dream for our nation cannot be realized without healthy people and a healthy community.”
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