“I can’t breathe.”

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June 19, 2020

“I can’t breathe.”

These are the devastating words uttered by George Floyd before he was murdered by a white police officer on May 25, 2020. Collectively, our communities and cities are breathing, shouting, and demanding justice for Mr. Floyd and countless other men, women, and children of color before him. At Northwest Narrative Medicine Collaborative, Black Lives Matter . 

When NWNMC became a nonprofit organization in 2018, we selected our Board of Directors with intention. From our beginnings we wanted to include diverse voices from the health care experience—voices which defied the hierarchies within the medical system and valued each other regardless of role. Our first board includes doctors, patients, educators, caregivers, scholars, and artists. While we represent many different roles within healthcare, we also recognize that we have fallen short.  As an organization we can and will do better, to include, listen, amplify, and center the under-told stories of people of color within our health system. 

“Poetry lays the foundations for a future of change, a bridge across our fears of what has never been before.” —Audre Lorde

Narrative medicine can help to lay the foundations for a future of change. Narrative medicine is one tool to counter racism and bias within our healthcare system. The practice strengthens our ability to listen, to embody empathy, to see and understand context, and come to better understand and accept multiple perspectives and experiences. Through absorbing stories and experiences of people of color we are moved in action collectively to dismantle racism.

Northwest Narrative Medicine Collaborative acknowledges 

  • The fundamental role of racism as a public health crisis
  • The role of white supremacy culture in forming healthcare institutions and perpetuating racism
  • The harmful stereotypes and inadequate representation of narratives from people of color 
  • The work of becoming anti-racist is an ongoing endeavor for individuals and organizations                                                             

Northwest Narrative Medicine Collaborative commits to

  • Centering the narratives of black, indigenous, and communities of color
  • Inviting healthcare workers, patients, caregivers, and artists of color to join and shape NWNMC.
  • Training and supporting narrative medicine facilitators from diverse communities
  • Recruiting diverse, equitable, and inclusive leadership 
  • Doing the work even when it is uncomfortable