Lovell's Food For Thought - Cultural Differences Need To Be Factored Into Scientific Health Discovery
Racial & Cultural Differences Matter
The more things change the more they remain the same. Who you are and the experiences you have determine the solutions you develop to address the problems you face." Give the lack of researchers of color, you should be able to see what the problem is. Although the numbers have increased, the percentage have remained the same. Therefore you have insight to both the problem and the solution to the problem. Unfortunately, we have continued to fail at solving this problem and therefore we continue to fail in making any significant reduction in health inequities.
A Second Appeal to Connect the Dots
If we are going to successfully address health inequities, we are going to need to truly climb out of our silos and connect to one another across a broad array. Although this easier said than done, we need to realize that “No one center or one institution or profession will solve the problems we face.” And any attempt to address this issue as a single problem of just one disease, without taking into account other factors, you have already failed to address the problem at the beginning and the outcome will be like placing a Band Aid on a heart attack, it may make you feel good, but what about the impact on society?
The need to create an oral history of leaders in the health disparities movement
The lost of our elders and their oral history and its impact on addressing health inequities. With the lost of two dear friends (Frank Talamantes & Gil Friedell); friends and colleagues on the battlefield in addressing health inequities, the question comes to mind, will we remember the knowledge they gained or will it be lost as we remain in our silos and continue to reinvent the wheel. Therefore, such will dooms us to continue to repeat the errors of the past and addressing inequities will remain an elusive target.
This Goes Beyond Race & Racism
To paraphrase what Benjamin Franklin once said: If we do not all hang together, we will all hang separately. The question that remains is: how do we get people and/or organizations out of their silos, especially in terms of health equity? We sure are not effectively addressing health inequities by remaining in our silos, especially scientific and advocacy silos.
Are we really addressing the health disparities/inequities gap in a serious and meaningful way?
Answer this question, given the number of centers focused on health disparities/inequities and the emphasis by major foundations on this topic, why are we not seeing a major reduction in the health disparities/inequities gap? Are we continuing to do just a modification of what we have always done, hoping that we are doing the right thing, when in reality we continue to get what we have always gotten, health disparities/inequities.
Do We Really Want to Address Either? My Perception is NO
Thirty years ago I wrote my first NIH on addressing breast cancer in African American Women. In that grant I included a section on the impact of racism on outcomes. The grant was not score. In fact, I was told that it really was not reviewed. Ten years later I wrote an article for "The Scientist" entitled "Racism Has An Impact On Research And Health Care Policy." Around the same time, serving on the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Integration Panel, I asked this question - how many Black women needed to die before we really did anything to really address inequities. Guess who not involved back to serve? Today, Racism is now a topic as it relates to health. Let me just say, it has been a topic for years. The question I continue to ask is whether anyone(s) in significant leadership position be held accountable. Only then will we truly see progress.
Do We Really Want to Address Either? My Perception is NO
Thirty years ago I wrote my first NIH grant on addressing breast cancer in African American Women. In that grant I included a section on the impact of racism on outcomes. The grant was not scored. In fact, I was told that it really was not reviewed. The basic statement was that everyone knew that Black women delayed in seeking care. Ten years later I wrote an article for "The Scientist" entitled "Racism Has An Impact On Research And Health Care Policy." Around the same time, serving on the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Integration Panel, I asked this question - how many Black women needed to die before we really do something about address this issue. Guess which member has never been invited back to serve? Today, Racism is now a topic, as it relates to health. However, let me just say that this is not new. it has been a topic for years. It is just coming up with a new set of people. So, the question I have continued ask is when will it not just be a topic of discussion and someone be held accountable for all these deaths. Only then will we truly see progress and not a topic of an article, a presentation or a panel discussion.
The Life of Donald J. Coffey
For a dishwater with dyslexia to being one the top science in Cancer Research, Don Coffey never forgot where he came from. This was one of his greatest achievements in terms of how he related to people of all ethnic and economic backgrounds.
The negative impact of creating more silos, more health inequities
As humans, we are always striving to receive credit for creating and/or doing something new. What I have learned, is that, for most things, they are not new, we are just improving on a concept. But when does improving and/or reinventing something become detrimental to the process? That is the question I am asking, especially in terms of health inequities, where the funds to address this issue is not limitless, but the knowledge brought together is.
Where are they now?
It is often said that the spirit of an individual lives as long as they live in the memories of those they have impacted. Howard Bern, is one whose spirit burns brightly in my soul. For he often said, "one's legacy to science is not the work that you do, but the people you leave behind." This is a phrase you have heard me say and written about numerous times, and will continue to hear me say and include in my writing so long as I am on this earth. It is almost my hope that this saying will be embedded in the souls of ones I have impacted so long as there is work to be done.
Time is precious. And there is a time when one has to decided about what needs to be done by ones-self or done by others. The biggest issue to this is the management of ones "EGO'. It is about not Edging God Out (EGO).
Is Addressing Health Inequities in a Holitic Mannner "A Bridge Too Far?"
A question I am asking this year is whether or not addressing health disparities/inequities is "A Bridge Too Far." What I mean is whether or not there is a willing to truly address this issue outside of those of us truly on the battle field. Ate we still in the age of the "Health Disparities Pimps." The other question is how do we make people feel that it is worth their time and/or investment to solve the issue. As one of this year's co-chairs of the 15th Annual Disparities in Health in America: Working Toward Social Justice Workshop said,, "I attended as a student, and it literally changed my life and impacted my career goals and aspirations deeply." The Disparities in America: Working Toward Social Justice Workshop has had such an impact on individuals. But again, I ask is such an effort “A Bridge Too Far.”
A House Divided Will Continue To Fall
There is strength in diversity, but it can only be achieved through unity. And unity can only be achieve by connecting the dots and valuing the contributions of all.
Bring together the many facets of 30 years of mentoring individuals in a biopsychosocial approach to creating a mighty Army to addressing health inequities.
Over the past 15 years, the Health Disparities, Education, Awareness, Research & Training (HDEART) Consortium has been hosting the Disparities in Health in America: Working Toward Social Justice course and workshop. During this period of time, HDEART has amassed over 1000 hours of presentations. Presentations that can play a significant role in educating the next generation about how to be successfully addressing health inequities. It is the legacy of the Center for Research on Minority Health (CRMH) that will continue to educate the next generation of health equity researchers
The outstanding Return on Investment (ROI) of Mentoring
I have stopped counting the number of minority students, and those from poor backgrounds, who have crossed my path. The vast majority, today, are success in their careers. Every human being has value, and if shown such, the ROI of such is beyond belief, even those don't succeed, for they too end up contributing to the society as a whole.
Perception versus Reality, all you need to do is say it enough over and over again, before something generates a perception and then becomes that person's reality whether real or not. Voter fraud is rampant. We need laws to correct that. Whether real or not, if you say it enough it become real in the minds of the people who believe it. This in turns generate a perception that all Conservative Republican are racist. The end result is a divided America
The Politics of Race
The Dream is still alive, but under extreme attack. The politics of race have never been more apparent as it has been during this Presidential election. And those attacks are threatening the very fabric of America.
The world's most widely used biology textbook
Campbell Biology is the most widely used textbook in biology classes around world. It thought to be the 4th most used book on college campuses. So, to have you picture and interview in front of chapter one, even if the person does not buy the book, he or she will undoubtedly come across your picture and your interview.
Since the move to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in 1980, the life of over 5000 individuals have been touched directly either through the laboratories of the Experimental Gynecology/Endocrinology, the Center for Research on Minority Health (CRMH), the Dorothy I. Height Center for Health Equity & Evaluation Research (DH-CHEER) or the Health Disparities, Education, Awareness, Research & Training (HDEART) Consortium. As my mentor Howard Bern said, it is the people you leave behind that is one of your greatest gift.
Acting for the common good takes persons of principle. It sometimes take a person willing to listen and learn, and then do the right thing. One of those things is to realize that all human life should be valued. The question I asked in a recent op ed piece is will we ever have leadership on both sides that will help us get to that point, where all human life is valued equally.
The feeling of hopelessness and desperation now fills the air across American society, with all side talking at each other, pointing fingers of blame. America truly is at another turning point, but this one is truly in need of leadership. To every steps forward, the key word is value.
Tamra Bentsen, the wife of former Congressman Ken Bentsen of Texas, once referred to ma as a rebel with a cause. This came from constantly being referred to as "a boat rocker." This coming year will mark the 30th Anniversary of the Biennial Symposium Series on Minorities, the Medically Underserved & Cancer and the passage of the legislation making the 3rd full week in April National Minority Cancer Awareness Week,
Lovell's Food For Thought - From Health Policy to Precision Medicine, Addressing Health Inequities Across A Broad Spectrum
Education is one of most effective ways to eliminating health inequities, the 14th Annual Disparities in Health in America: Working Toward Social Justice Workshop
Lovell’s Food For Thought – Improving the Education of our Kids Improves the Future Well-Being of Our Nation.
Education is one of the corner stones to addressing health inequities. For who you allows you to bring your experiences to the table to aid in designing interventions that will work effectively. Until we have a truly diverse workforce, we will continue to talk about our great discoveries and lack the ability to deliver them in a manner that will benefit all.
The Knights of Camelot continues to make a difference in addressing health inequities.
In February 2013, the Union for International Cancer Control and the International Agency for Research on Cancer announced, “Implementing what we know can reduce cancer deaths.” This is truly not new and that is the problem
Benjamin Franklin's Prophecy
Do we really want to solve health inequities or any inequity in this nation? The answer that keeps coming to mind is a resounding no.
A Research Center Once Referred To As Camelot
As Margaret Meade once said, “never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have.” Although, after my retirement the Congressionally-mandated Center for Research on Minority Health (CRMH) was dismantled and no longer exists, what these individuals accomplished as a unit continues to this day.
How many of your African American grandmothers, mothers, aunts, cousins, girlfriends and friends need to develop and die from breast cancer before we demand that something be done to truly address the rising incidence and mortality rate in our women? Every October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month when the statistics are focused on, I again realized that not enough have die yet. So with the announcement this Breast Cancer Awareness Month that African American have now reached parity white women in terms of incidence, maybe we will say something, but maybe not. In my mind, it is not a lack knowledge but now a lack of a will.
The Health Disparities Breast Cancer Gap in African American Women
What a fitting time to write this op ed piece on breast cancer in African American women.
Unconsicious Bias and the Lack of a WIll to Acknowledge It
Dr. Harold Freeman once said, “In our society we see, value, and behave toward one another through a powerful lens of race.” It is not saying one is evil or a bigot or racist, it is saying how we continue to react to one another. That we have to realized that 400 plus years of indoctrination can not be wipe away by just passing laws, but that a societal change is needed. And that will only come with out and honest discussions about the issues. Something that we continue to fight again; not realizing that the past does matter. And until we continue to call the episodes like McGraw- Hill isolated errors, we will not get to where we need to be. That is the power of silent racism.
Margaret Mead once said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." To see this same group that came together to form the foundation of CAN DO Houston and the recognition is now receiving on a national level, can only warms one heart.
Lovell’s Food For Thought – Can We Really Put RACE Behind Us? White On the Outside, But Black by Lineage
As we enter into the second half of the first decade of the twenty-first century, I am beginning to wonder if we are entering into the end of the Second Reconstruction Era.
White on the Outside, But Black by Lineage
All lives will matter when "Black Lives Matter." The issue of race is something that has confronted America since the first African slave was brought to these shores. The question of valuing black lives goes from that day to the declaration of being 3/5 a human, to the need for the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution to grant citizenship. Then, there was a bright moment in the history of this country and Black Americans. That was until the US Supreme Court ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1875 was unconstitutional which led to the rise of "Jim Crow" and the indiscriminate lynching of Black men, women and sometimes children. It is amazing that every time we elevate the chorus of why should Black Lives Matter, it is taken as it is is valued more more than anyone else's life. It is not that it should be valued more, it's just that its value continues to be less than. This is the real issue up for discussion. A discussion that is not taking place.
The VALUE OF HUMAN LIVES OR LACK OF - An Issue of Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome?
I find that all I need to do is review all that I have written over the past two decades and continue to refrain the question, when we value the lives of everyone equitably? Until we develop the will to make the necessary changes, we will continue to face the problems we face. When makes me wonder if the we every overcome the impact that slavery has had on this society, what Dr. Joy DeGruy has referred to as "Post-traumatic Slave Syndrome - America's Legacy Of Enduring Injury and Healing".
The journey of Dr. E. Lisako McKyer from graduate student to health disparities event moderator
Several years ago Dr. E. Lisako McKyer was a graduate student sitting in the audience of the Disparities in Health in America: Working Toward Social Justice Workshop founded by Dr. Lovell A. Jones. First launched at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, it now held at Prairie View A&M University College of Nursing. The only HBCU located in the largest biomedical complex in the world. Today, over a decade later, Dr. McKyer is now the mentor to Dr. Jones' grand nephew and is the workshop's moderator. As she was a student trying to decide on her career direction, Dr. McKyer too is now mentoring students and steering them along the path of addressing health inequities. The op ed is part of her journey getting to where she is today..
It is not just knowledge, but the will to truly make a change
It is anger mixed with the continuing sense that we may never reach the end of the arch of the moral universe where justice will prevail, at least not in my lifetime.
Lovell’s Food For Thought – Are Things Changing for the Worst or Am I Just Getting Older and More Cynical?
Segregation Now, Segregation Tomorrow, Segregation Forever
When will we ever obtain the will to make the needed changes. We elect leaders who are constantly looking to get re-elected as oppose to having the will to do the right thing. While the fabric of our nation is being torn apart, we are pointing fingers at each other as oppose to looking at who is benefiting from the finger pointing, and it is not just white America.
Lovell’s Food For Thought - A Piece Revisited - Retiring From the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
The More Things Change, The More They Remain The Same
It has been almost two years since I sent out an email to the External Scientific Advisory Board of the Dorothy I. Height Center for Health Equity & Evaluation Research (CHEER), formerly the Center for Research on Minority Health (CRMH) announcing my intent to retire from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. As I recently said, one can speak out on what should be evident to any intelligent person, but is hard to change perception, even in the face of reality, unless one is really ready to address the perception.
Why we continue to focus on Black Lives
All lives matter, but why do we continue to perceive that Black lives are the exception. Is it because we continue to ignore the impact of historical influences and say that racial biases no longer matter? It is that we continue to place our heads in the sand and hoping that the bias and/or negative stereotypes will go away? When in reality it like ignoring a teeth ache that ultimately can kill you.
The end of civil rights as we know it?
The question that faces this nation as we enter 2015 is whether civil rights is ending? The home of page of the Ku Klux Klan states, "There is a race war against whites. But our people - my white brothers and sisters - will stay committed to a non-violent resolution." Are we seeing that non-violent revolution in the form of redistricting and the restrictions on the right to vote taking? Martin Luther King once said "In the End, we will remember not the word of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." For me it is not just the silence of our friends, but lack of action, especially those with power not to use it for fear of being labelled and/or losing their seat at the table. A seat most will lose anyway.
The next decade at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
The next ten years at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center saw me establish my career as a independent research scientist, become the first African American to be promoted to Associate Professor with tenure and launch my efforts to address health disparities. The first Biennial Symposium on Minorities & Cancer, The Realities of Cancer in Minority Communities was launched in 1987 with some of the most noted present and future individuals in their fields, including, Drs. Harold Freeman, David Satcher, Philip Cole, Kenneth Olden, Mary Claire King, Robert Kerbel, James Hampton, Carlos Valbona, David Kohn and Congressman Mickey Leland.
It is not the science you do that is your legacy, but the people you leave behind to continue the work you do.
It was in the Center for Research on Minority Health (CRMH) at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center that Joshua received these words of wisdom from my mentor: “It is not the science you do that is your legacy, but the people you leave behind to continue the work you do.”"
It is not just the criminal justice system that needs fixing
Perception versus reality, if we think negatively of a group of people, how does it impact our reactions when we interact with these individuals, especially when stressed? It does not matter reality of the situation because our perceptions (beliefs) will result in actions that defy reality. It is these perceptions that lead to biases that result in the situations we are facing today. Unless we confront these perceptions, the reality is that we will never resolve the inherent biases that plague this nation.
My First Five Years at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
The summer of 1980 I joined the faculty of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center as the first African American basic/behavioral scientist in a tenure-track position.
The Postdoctoral Years of Camelot
At the end of the summer of 1977 I joined the laboratory of Dr. Pentti "Finn" Siiteri. It was a continuation of the Camelot years. Part five covers the years of my postdoctoral fellowship and my first faculty appointment at the University of California Medical Center at San Francisco.
The Graduate School Days
June 1972 I started as the forty second student admitted into the graduate program in the Department of Zoology at the University of California Berkeley. That that time, it was considered the number one Zoology Department in the nation.
What True Leadership Is About!!!
I had the opportunity to sit down and have a conversation with Dr. Charles A. (Mickey) LeMaistre, the second president of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Cancer, known as "the pink palace". For almost two decades Mickey guided a from an institution of almost all white males, with very few underserved minorities and women, to one with women in leadership roles. As we discussed, much still needs to done, but especially with regard to number underserved minorities both in terms of faculty position as well as senior leadership roles.
From Robert E. Lee High School to Louisiana State University, the more things change the more they remain the same
The third is a multiple series tracing my journey from being among the first African Americans to integrate schools in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to being the first African American Full Professor at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. This covers the end of high school to beginning graduate school at the University of California Berkeley.