“we all make mistakes. If we live in this world…”


November 8, 2020

“we all make mistakes. If we live in this world…”

Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash

Writing from Community of Practice

Dr. Cirila Estela Vasquez Guzman shared a raw paragraph she wrote during Ripping the Bandaid Off: Addressing Racism as a Public Health Crisis, led by Leslie Gregory. Read on!

Ripping the band-aid off is the moment when you realize you yourself can be biased as well. No one is immune from the us vs others or the us vs them, we all make mistakes. If we live in this world, then we need to recognize that we are socialized to be biases, we are conditioned to be racist, sexist, etc. Through the TV, the media, the magazines, the socialization of our parents, and the myriad of experiences in many institutions. The true work is to be reflective and to ensure that we need to work every day not to discriminate or disrespect based on many things race, gender, sexuality, religion, politics, motherhood, fatherhood, family, community, able body, elitism, and many others. We all cause pain and we are all bleeding. A band-aid is no longer enough, it never had been. They hid the scars but these scars make us who we are, our story cannot be erased and our history cannot be undone. We have done harm. You and will continue to do harm. The question is when are we going to acknowledge that and say not just say sorry. When are we going to learn and help each other heal. The intersecting systems of oppression are the source of trauma and no band-aid is going to stop it. In fact, living in the shadows is what gives it power. Our fear of our scars and wounds. Our desire to hide the darkness. When we segregate and hide out in our silos to protect ourselves we harm our community and the ability to live in our fullest humanity. Together we are stronger, together we can rip off that band-aid and start to heal as a nation.

A narrative medicine response to writing: The first thing that strikes me as a reader and listener is the compression and density in this written form. It’s one single block of text written with such force that the occasional ends of words are dropped. Are we experiencing the intense speed and sensation of a band-aid being ripped off? Within this density, the changing use of subject moves us through this urgent message. The writing opens in the second person, you realise, you yourself, is this a call to attention or a challenge to act? In sentence two, the writing pivots neatly to transcribe the problem us vs others or the us vs them. Finally, the work settles into a generous, and inclusive first person voice: “we all make mistakes. If we live in this world...”. This writing offers us all language to move through this essential conversation of race and racism.

About the Writer: Cirila Estela Vasquez Guzman is a postdoc in the Department of Family Medicine at Oregon Health and Science University. She is a first-generation, immigrant, Mexican, indigenous, women dedicated to addressing inequities. Dr. Guzman holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of New Mexico, where she specialized in medical sociology and race and ethnicity. Her broader research agenda is concerned with inequities in medicine, health, and health delivery among populations of color, particularly immigrant communities. Dr. Guzman's work aims to specifically bridge the gap between theory and practice from an equity and inclusion perspective. Dr. Guzman was raised here in Oregon and after 14 years is thrilled to return! Connect with her at vasquest@ohsu.edutwitter @EstelaVasquezG , or LinkedIn

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