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    What did you do for Juneteenth?

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | June 20th, 2021

    What did you do for Juneteenth?

    Who would have known that since my last blog, we would have a new federal holiday – Juneteenth? Juneteenth celebrates the date in 1865 when the Emancipation Proclamation – which had been signed three years earlier, was finally read aloud to enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, after Civil War Union Forces arrived in the Confederate stronghold.  I was talking with a friend over the weekend and she asked me about my plans for Juneteenth.  I told her that I would spend the time learning about the history of the United States of America. I told her that there was so much of history that was never taught in school and what a day to learn more. When it comes to Juneteenth, I think that we (all of us) regardless of what makes us different should spend time reading and coming together to have conversations.

    On Saturday, I spent time with members of my book club discussing the book Caste written by Isabel Wilkerson. I highly recommend this book.   The book is well researched and provides us with insight to America’s history. I love her metaphor of comparing America to a house. One of my favorite quotes from the book is:

    We in the developed world are like homeowners who inherited a house on a piece of land that is beautiful on the outside, but whose soil is unstable loam and rock, heaving and contracting over generations, cracks patched but the deeper ruptures waved away for decades, centuries even. Many people may rightly say, “I had nothing to do with how this all started. I have nothing to do with the sins of the past. My ancestors never attacked indigenous people, never owned slaves.” And, yes. Not one of us was here when this house was built. Our immediate ancestors may have had nothing to do with it, but here we are, the current occupants of a property with stress cracks and bowed walls and fissures built into the foundation. We are the heirs to whatever is right or wrong with it. We did not erect the uneven pillars or joists, but they are ours to deal with now.

    I am hoping that by making Juneteenth a federal holiday, it gives us time to have meaningful conversations about how to fix our house. What do we do about voting rights? What do we do about housing? What do we do about our education system? All of these issues are important. I am particularly interested in the bedroom for health and cannot wait for the day when everyone has the same access to that well-furnished bedroom.

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    With her trademark wit and straightforward communication, Dr. Osuagwu continues to dole out valuable medical advice using the letter form and addressing women’s health conditions and issues in a method that was praised for its innovative approach in her earlier award-winning book, Letters to My Sisters: Plain Truths and Straightforward Advice from a Gynecologist. In this book, each letter is paired with reference sources and statistics about the condition that is the subject of the letter.

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    The book discusses common gynecological and women’s health issues in a series of witty and entertaining letters. These letters, all educational, offer suggestions on what approaches to take in tackling the medical problems that typically bring women to an ob/gynecologist. The letters are spiced with art, a poem and quotes. Although its emphasis is on gynecology and women’s health, it touches on some other medical issues that make women visit their doctors.

    The second half of the book briefly discusses the most common gynecological conditions and also provides an overview of sexually transmitted infections. A list of annotated websites dealing with the different topics in the book is provided for the reader who wants to pursue each subject in depth.

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