I didn’t sleep well last night. Today I will start a new segment of treatment for breast cancer, and I feel emotional about how my body, spirit, and mind will respond to treatment. I’m crying as I write this because I’m both nervous of the effects and also grateful to have access to healthcare. With that said, RACISM IS WORSE THAN CANCER. In the past few days, racism has caused me more sorrow than cancer.
When I found out I had cancer, nobody asked me what I did wrong or how bad the cancer was before showing me compassion and wanting justice in my healthcare. When someone experiences racism, there is always someone who needs to evaluate how bad the situation is before determining if the victim is “worthy” of compassion and justice.
With cancer, nobody has made me feel like I needed my cancer to be of a certain size or stage before I could grieve. The moment they found out about my cancer diagnosis, they just wanted it out of me ASAP. Sometimes I’ve experienced racism or know someone who has, and I’ve had a loved one make me feel like I didn’t have a right to be mad if the racism weren’t at a certain size or stage.
If racism were a cancer, many people would be fine with Stage 1 Racism (e.g. microaggressions) and let it sit. Then they’d get shocked and appalled when someone experiences Stage 4 Racism (e.g. violence by an authority figure) and potentially death. It’s as if people need racism to meet a certain threshold before they decide it’s a “real problem.”
Who has the privilege to decide what’s a “real problem”? If you have that privilege, what are you going to do with it?
SPECIAL NOTE: When I was mistreated by healthcare workers at my former hospital, nobody shouted, “Not all healthcare workers are bad!” Again people cared most about my immediate health and systemic issues that related to my quality of life.