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    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | January 16th, 2017


    If Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was still alive, he would be 88 years old today. I was wondering what words of wisdom he would provide to us.

    In a few days, we will have a new President. We hear every day in the news that the Nation is so divided. There are threats to repeal the Affordable Care Act with no replacement discussed. Regardless of how anyone feels, the Affordable Care Act has made a difference for people. It has helped ever so slightly in reducing health care disparity. Preventative screening is free without any cost sharing. Insurance companies cannot deny you because of a preexisting condition. Your children can be on your health plan until they are 26 years old. Women have access to all forms of contraceptive. Women are no longer charged higher premiums than men because they are women.

    What would Dr. Martin Luther King say?

    Unfortunately he is not alive today, however, we thank God that his speeches have been preserved and are available to us. On October 15, 1962, he was addressing students at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa. He was discussing the issue of ‘race relations’.  In the speech he said the following:

    “… I am convinced that men hate each other because they fear each other. They fear each other because they don’t know each other, and they don’t know each other because they don’t communicate with each other, and they don’t communicate with each other because they are separated from each other.”

    Although this was said 55 years ago, it still has relevance today.  He might have been talking about race, but this can be applied to anything that separates us – socioeconomic status, religion, sexual orientation, political parties, etc. We need to be comfortable talking and listening to people that do not look like us.

    When we hear that Black babies are 2.5 times more likely than white babies to die before reaching their first birthday or that the large majority of trafficked persons in the U.S. for the purposes of labor and sexual exploitation are people of color or  that White Americans between ages 15 and 24 years old are 6 times more likely to die from a drug overdose than Black Americans and four times as likely to die as Hispanics or that Native American women are 19 times more likely to kill themselves than other women the same age, we need to care. We cannot ignore the problems because the person it affects does not look like us.

    In the same speech, he talked about love and defined it as:

    “…understanding, creative good will, for all men

    What would Dr. King expect of us? He would expect us to be willing to reach out and talk to one another regardless of our differences, be open-minded and be willing to love one another, not just on the day dedicated to him, but every day.

    Happy Martin Luther King Day!


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