Posts (7)

Wed, May 27 2:22pm · Are you me?

As an elementary student, I was recruited to recite the morning announcements (and otherwise had many opportunities for public speaking). Each day I would arrive early to the little studio adjacent to the library where my colleagues and I would squabble for the primary announcer position. It was always exciting to tell thousands of students and faculty the lunch menu and details about major school events. When I was at home sometimes my sister would grill me about a world she could only imagine: “did you do the announcements today?” If my response was affirmative she might follow-up with “How was it? Were you nervous?” At my nonchalantly positive reviews about the simplicity of the task she once exclaimed: “I don’t understand how you can do that! Don’t you know that thousands of people are watching?” Decades later I am still taken aback by her seemingly harmless curiosity.

At the guileless age of eight when I was nominated for the position, I had no concept of nervousness in the realm of public speaking. I only knew the facts. People more mature than me had observed my skills in reciting to the masses and encouraged me to develop those skills while serving the needs of my institution. Why should I be wary of doing what everyone, including myself, knew that I am fully capable of doing? What people are actually asking with the “Are you nervous?” question is “Are you like me in this instance?” The answer to that question for many situations is no. No two people are exactly alike—not not even identical conjoined twins and definitely not siblings with years in age difference. Proof of this is that announcements were not for my sister—which she made clear—but for me the role was perfect.

Now in graduate school, where the stakes are much higher, I am experiencing similar interrogations almost at every turn. “Are you lonely?” might be a question from someone who knows I am far from home. They say this without knowing what joys I can only appreciate as someone who lives independently. I have found new hobbies that the familiarity of my people in Florida kept me from enjoying. (For example, not one Florida friend so far has consented to go hiking.) Additionally, I designated time to read more than twenty books in 2019 because I was left “alone”. Then I wandered through a park with an acquaintance extoling the merits of Michele Obama’s Becoming. “Alone” and apart from my family is where I have discovered new communities and, most valuably, myself. It is with gratitude that I reflect on the opportunity I have to achieve my career goals apart from my home.

Unfortunately, it is easy to find examples where people challenge my contentment at school. If someone learns that a major career defining milestone, for example a qualifying exam, is looming I might get any number of responses. “Are you nervous?” seems to be an ancient query passed down to every generation, yet I am still at a loss for a response. Am I, a person that has persevered as a student for more than twenty years, still nervous about doing student activities? For some of my peers the answer to this question might be yes. But I can tell you from extensive interactions with them that those individuals have different life experiences than mine. Most of them are not African American nor a first generation professional trainee and daughter to immigrants. They are sheltered from the shock of seeing themselves in people who are gunned down or staving off derisive comments about affirmative action. They have limited notions of the challenges of my day-to-day just as I am kept from the trails of theirs. A beautiful facet of life is that even similar scenarios lead to diverse outcomes depending on cognitive processing; however, what is not beautiful is that even if someone watches me coasting on a road of tranquility they feel free to crash into my world in a vehicle loaded with discontent.

All of this was written primarily to express this: if you see someone at peace, let her be. Allow people to exist without projecting your negative emotions onto them. I rarely desire to pacify the unwarranted sympathy and emotions of others. Additionally, negative questions are not conducive to a joyful life and generally consume our most valuable resource: time. I understand it is important to let people know that they are not alone in a situation and for some, perhaps, verbalizing their potential feelings might be comforting. But, at least for me, constantly warding off negative and inaccurate ideas about me when I am already investing great energy into my studies is exhausting (and isolating).

When we unload our anxiety, shame, regret, etc. on others under the guise of being helpful we might instead be teaching them to bear our issues. That is unjust because the recipient may not have the emotional bandwidth to spare. Instead of asking “Are you nervous?” or “Are you scared?” we can ally with our colleagues by assessing the situation before providing a response. A start might be, “I know you have this major obligation coming up. How are you feeling?” This question leaves space for positive emotions as opposed to a question about anxiety which crowds out the hope inherent to tackling major career milestones. Besides, humans frequently have positive and negative emotions about one event; therefore broader questions are more appropriate. So especially if you want to help, leave the floor open for your companion to curate the tone of the conversation.

Another approach is to ask: “How can I help?” From my experiences asking and hearing this question, people rarely take the offer but it is reassuring to know that someone cares enough to ask. Such a question boosts my positives feelings immeasurably. Who wouldn’t want evidence that someone sees their efforts and wants only to support them? Especially in this chapter where isolation is forced upon us, we should all do our part to respond AFTER assessing an individual’s status.

Particularly in current times, I am impressed by the diverse needs of those around me. In example, I once believed that mental health issues were rare, yet I frequently find that some scenarios that bring me joy actually cause others to fall into depression. And I have only come to know this after learning to be myself and allowing others to be authentic without casting predictions on how they should feel. We should all be careful to avoid bludgeoning people with our biased opinions and instead allow and support them to flourish as themselves.

Josiane Joseph is a Haitian-American M.D.-Ph.D. student at Mayo Clinic. She was born in Miami, Florida and earned her B.S. at the University of Florida. During her free time she enjoys movies, vlogging, attending church, and learning about what makes other individuals unique. Josiane values discussions of meaningful issues and looks forward to sharing diverse views with others.

Mon, Feb 17 10:04pm · Known for Being Anonymous

Recently, I spent an evening at a professional development workshop designed to equip me to interact with confrontational patients. During this workshop, I encountered scenarios of people with racial or gender bias (both of which have affected me in- and outside my career training). Although it was informative to navigate the prejudices of others seeking care—what forced me to consider implications of diversity in the healthcare environment most was not my interactions with unreasonable people, but the survey administered before and after the event.

“It will be anonymous,” the workshop leaders explained; however, as I looked at the first few questions on the survey, it became clear that anonymity would be impossible. What the session leaders sought to know first was my race, sex, age, and my position at my institution. Sure my sex might have been represented in the room with about a dozen people. Even age could potentially have a range within the room; but when you are the only African American female who holds a training position in the entire city and a survey administrator asks for your race, the position you hold, and your sex—it becomes clear from whom the responses were generated.

At this workshop was not the first time I realized that I would not have the same privilege of anonymity as my peers. In the past I was asked to take a survey in a cohort of more than fifty people. The survey broached sensitive topics regarding harassment of any kind. Although the group was larger, the issue was the same. After the first few questions, the survey evaluator might guess that it was me responding. It would be simple for anyone to realize that of the three African American people in the cohort, I was the only one in my training role responding to the survey. The implications of this for people similar to me (minority women in advanced training or professional positions) are that we often are not afforded a safe space to share our viewpoints; because who in their right mind would truthfully share feelings of harassment if there is a clear avenue of retaliation?

As a rising scientist who respects efforts to obtain high-quality survey data that is representative of the population, the internal turmoil that some “anonymous” surveys might trigger is not trivial. Additionally, as someone well aware of the limitations institutions face in terms of understanding the experiences of minorities and using that understanding to create an inclusive environment, I am frequently tasked with weighing the risks and benefits of my responses to surveys. Most people sharing contentious views would be concerned about inappropriate disclosure of that information; it is unjust to orchestrate a scenario in which minorities completing surveys are more vulnerable to identity disclosure.

Lately, I have considered alternatives to this dilemma and I have not found many; simply because it helps to know if minority groups feel differently from other groups of people. The fact that no one in any of my two previous survey classes has broached this issue of preserving anonymity for minorities is surprising. (But not too surprising considering they were mostly taught by non-minorities.) Yet from my experiences, it is clear that this will continue to be an issue. I sometimes dream of a universe where training programs are more representative of the population of the United States and where this dilemma (along with many others) would be resolved. Minorities need their courage to face more threatening issues than being Ms. Anonymous-only-African-American-MD-PhD-student taking a survey. (They need their energy to, for example, deal with confrontational patients). Aside from this, institutions owe it to themselves to avoid expending resources that produce defunct results. I can usually move past my known anonymous identity because of my research training, but we should all consider the impact of those that can’t.

Josiane Joseph is a Haitian-American M.D.-Ph.D. student at Mayo Clinic. She was born in Miami, Florida and earned her B.S. at the University of Florida. During her free time she enjoys movies, writing, attending church, and learning about what makes other individuals unique. Josiane values discussions of meaningful issues and looks forward to sharing diverse views with others.

Dec 14, 2019 · Narration is a Necessity

By: Josiane Joseph

Dr. Hedy S. Wald, a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine at Brown University, visited Mayo Clinic in December for a selection of lectures open to trainees and other personnel. I made the time to attend her narrative writing workshop where she discussed the benefits of reflective writing and allowed attendees time to respond to prompts. There was no way to anticipate what the hour-long experience would entail. Many biomedical professionals (like me) are socialized to believe leisure activities are a luxury; yet with Dr. Wald leaping around the room and speed-talking about previous publications and her views on the role narration has on performance, I was nearly convinced that daily written reflections were a necessity. Dr. Wald’s ideas highlight why it is essential to have a diversity of thoughts and behaviors in academic institutions. Dr. Wald’s engaging lecture style involved ricocheting from desk-to-desk and eventually sitting down to listen intently to audience experiences. Her dynamic behavior modeled the key points that I believe she came to impart: taking time to reflect on your life experiences will 1) improve your quality of life, and 2) enhance your interactions with others.

Hedy S. Wald, Ph.D.

The healthcare community is one of the most varied networks of individuals working towards a common goal. I saw this firsthand as I listened to Hedy Wald, Ph.D. amongst genetic counselors, perfusionists, and bioethics professionals all working towards providing excellent patient care. Each role is significant; in training for these roles, according to Dr. Wald, we are “constructing an identity”. Part of doing so should involve taking time to stop, think about your being, and what you are becoming because “we don’t learn from experience; we learn from reflecting on experience”. To be present to what takes place in our lives we must take time to reflect on our days and be in the moment with what we do. From my experience, it is during the rare occasions where I sit alone in an evening’s solitude that poignant memories and current circumstances coalesce together to reveal who I will become. This clarity brings me peace and reassurance that I am working towards a transformative purpose. I have already benefited from reflection, but at the advice of Dr. Wald writing down ideas would enhance or prolong reflective benefits. Previous studies have characterized how reflective writing improves mental and physical well-being (1). Dr. Wald spoke of a Harvard study that indicated 15 minutes of reflection improved performance at work. Fifteen minutes a day seems a small investment in order to increase our enjoyment of work (which many of us spend much of our weeks doing) and to understand our lives on a deeper level.

One theme particularly emphasized by Dr. Wald is that through reflective practice we may gain the following essential benefits: mindful presence (we should all think about our presence before each engagement), emotional intelligence and insight, recognition of dilemmas, and meaning making transformative learning. For those concerned about inclusivity, these characteristics are crucial. Many of us move through the world reacting to others without considering the effects of our actions on those individuals. In example, during medical school training another student and I were told—by someone contributing to our training—that my body was a perfect example of someone healthy. The other medical student was clearly uncomfortable with the illusion that being heavier implies unhealthy habits. I also showed my discomfort through a half-grimace (masked by an awkward smile). Yet the commenter most likely never took a moment to acknowledge or reflect on the tension that his unconscious bias was creating for us as students. Unbeknownst to him, the other student was far more active and health oriented than I could ever dream of being. When people make unnecessary comments, such as those about weight or body shape, and do not hold themselves accountable by reflecting on the outcome, then others are left to sort through negative perceptions of themselves. Judgmental behavior should not be a part of a professional environment. There is no simpler way to create inclusivity besides being reflective of our experiences.

In light of her discussion, Dr. Wald has inspired me to go beyond reflection into the practice of narration. The good news is that there are a few avenues to write about and share our experiences at Mayo Clinic: a) for anyone at Mayo there is The Healing Milieu, and b) for students there is The Tempest. The incentive to write about our experiences is obvious—narration appears to improve our lives and developing a reflective writing habit could also improve our interactions with others.


  1. Pennebaker, J. W., & Chung, C. K. (2007). Expressive writing, emotional upheavals, and health. Foundations of health psychology, 263-284.

a. The Healing Milieu: Submit personal narrative/auto-ethnography, poetry, prose or visual art capturing vulnerable moments and/or times of reflection and growth in which the author tells a story of either: (1) their own experience of, or (2) their experience observing others benefit from the art, leisure, parks/gardens, enjoyable distractions, and meaning-making reflective spaces located on the Mayo Clinic campuses or surrounding areas. Personal narrative and prose submissions should be within 600-1000 words. Submissions may include up to five academic references. Submissions should also include a title and a biographical sketch. Email submissions to by January 20, 2020.

b. The Tempest: Regardless of experience, ALL are welcome to submit one or more pieces. Submissions may be: non-fiction essays, creative writing works, original poetry, original art work, original photography. Submission should be emailed to any one of the editors (Patricia Bai, Andrea Collins, Noelle Driver, Kevin Miller, Sam Rouleau, or Ericka Wheeler) by Sunday, March 1st, 2020 in order to allow for time to provide edits and feedback prior to formatting and publication.

About the Author: Josiane Joseph is a Haitian-American M.D.-Ph.D. student at Mayo Clinic. She was born in Miami, Florida and earned her B.S. at the University of Florida. During her free time she enjoys movies, writing, attending church, and learning about what makes other individuals unique. Josiane values discussions of meaningful issues and looks forward to sharing diverse views with others.

Dec 5, 2019 · Overview of Lunch & Learn with Dr. Leon Haley - October 22, 2019

According to Forbes and Fortune writers, though African Americans comprise 14% of the American workforce, only about 0.003% of them hold chief executive positions in Fortune 500 companies. In healthcare administration the absence of minorities is, perhaps, more stark with 91% of executives being non-Hispanic white individuals. Despite male minority executives being such a rarity, on October 22, 2019 at Mayo Clinic many students and employees had the opportunity to interact with one—Dr. Leon L. Haley Jr. is the CEO of University of Florida Health in Jacksonville. He has maintained this position for years while also serving as the Vice-President for Health Affairs and the Dean of the College of Medicine. Remarkably, Dr. Haley also continues to prioritize his emergency medicine practice by setting aside time to teach and see patients at his institution.  During a brief lunch session he shared some of his history along with salient advice for others that might be interested in a similarly advanced clinical and/or administrative career. In an effort to soothe any regrets related to missing this event, some highlights from the session are below.

Leon L. Haley Jr., M.D., MHSA, C.P.E., FACEP

Regarding the role that health organizations such as Mayo Clinic and UF health might play moving forward, it was intriguing to hear Dr. Haley’s discussion of the optimal model being one where hospitals are involved with building communities “from the ground up”; this would ensure that community health is a priority. Factors such as allocating space for bike paths and including venues where people can obtain healthy foods were considerations that Dr. Haley is a part of advocating for. Though to some people these features may appear obviously advantageous for a healthy and sustainable public domain, they are often neglected in urban development plans. By contributing to conversations before construction, healthcare institutions and professionals have the opportunity to make a greater impact. While moving towards holistic approaches to providing individuals with medical care, it seems only fitting that we also adopt holistic approaches to building healthy communities as Dr. Haley indicated.

For trainees interested in an executive role similar to the one he holds, Dr. Haley suggested administrative training and urban development education. According to Haley, the additional education would best equip someone for the day-to-day tasks of leading an organization. Some employers often support career advancing education financially or through flexibility. If the second year medical student who requested this information is similar to me, she learned that company executives often earned administrative degrees at that meeting. Talking to Dr. Haley enlightened early career individuals to various career paths and his comments provided direction for action. Particularly with the attending crowd being primarily women and people of color, attending this lunch session was useful towards advising people from demographics that notoriously lack access to executives.

When asked to leave three pearls of wisdom for the audience Dr. Haley shared the following items: 1) consider what will be your legacy, 2) identify internal and external mentors, and 3) be comfortable with delayed gratification. For me, hearing Dr. Haley starting with a statement promoting self-reflections was exquisitely appropriate because the hurdles that must be overcome to achieve a professionally career sometimes cloak the purpose behind the journey—which for many in healthcare is to serve others. Those that attended the lunch were reminded by someone at the peak of his career that long hours of training is all for a purpose. Dr. Haley’s comments created space for pause and mindfulness (cognitive tools that many of us might want to use more often).

Overall the Lunch & Learn promoted an engaging discussion. The Office for Diversity (OFD) at Mayo Clinic regularly hosts a variety of community members which creates enriching circumstances for Mayo Clinic affiliates. Through the OFDs resourcefulness trainees can interact with people, such as Dr. Leon Haley from UF Health, who are both successful and down to earth. Dr. Haley’s ready responses boasted decades of leadership experience, yet the informal nature of the meeting made him seem approachable.  Meetings like these help expand our understanding of who gets to be successful and how. It is always rewarding to be in the audience for an OFD Lunch & Learn.


About the Author: Josiane Joseph is a Haitian-American M.D.-Ph.D. student at Mayo Clinic. She was born in Miami, Florida and earned her B.S. at the University of Florida. During her free time she enjoys movies, writing, attending church, and learning about what makes other individuals unique. Josiane values discussions of meaningful issues and looks forward to sharing diverse views with others.

Aug 15, 2019 · Book Review of: So you want to talk about race, by Ijeoma Oluo (And comments on hobbies)

By Josiane Joseph

Last year, while moving through the realm of a fast-pace M.D.-Ph.D. student I was gifted something I did not know I needed. It was a book—a really good book. As I read it, I found time to reflect on new perspectives and savor a different flavor of thinking, the non-scientific variety. It was then that I realized that by buying into the myth of “I don’t have the time” to read new stories, I was neglecting myself. Ever since my youth, I was an avid reader of everything; reading is woven into the fabric of my being. It is probably the most direct contributor to any success I experience in life, and has shown me many aspects of the world before I could live it for myself.  After realizing what a disservice to me it would be to put off fun reading, I vowed to resurrect my oldest most reliable hobby by reading 12 great books in the year 2019. What follows is my evaluation of book number 10.

Whenever I read a book, particularly if it is a good one, I will look for more information on the author. The background of a writer interest me because sometimes it alludes to what might be shaping their views and enhances the work overall. Ijeoma Oluo is a mixed raced woman (which surprised me somewhat). She is a mother, was a wife, is a sister, identifies as part of the LGBTQ community, has a bachelor’s in political science, and has a platform that allows her to make her living as an advocate for equity and justice. In So you want to talk about race we see stories of her in all of these roles which adds new dimension to the topics she broaches and speaks to the passion that inspired the novel.

For someone who may not have much time to devote to reading,
this book is perfect because it has seventeen discrete chapters that can each
be enjoyed individually. If I was the type to skip around to parts that most
interested me, I could easily do so because a neat table of contents was
included. Many of the topics listed such as privilege, police brutality, and
the definition of racism are commonly discussed in diversity meetings which I often
make an effort to attend. Therefore at the start of the novel, I was a little
weary of redundancy but simultaneously intrigued because it was not clear which
direction Oluo might take. By the end of the book, I was impressed with the
broad range of subjects she was able to address, several of which I never
considered (for example, the model minority myth); I was also relieved that many
conclusions it might take years of investment for someone like me to accept
were boldly and rationally presented. This is definitely a timely novel with
something to offer everyone.

From the very first chapter Oluo drives home the point that
pretty much all aspects of life for humans are influenced by race (though race
is not the only influencing factor). As a rising professional who—due to the
paucity of diversity in my field—must always work with people who are very
different from me, I am learning more and more that this assertion is true. To
quote Oluo “…being a person of color in white-dominated society is like
being in an abusive relationship with the world.” Throughout the novel,
she speaks to the pain that many people of color experience while existing as
unwelcome citizens, gave salient recommendations about appropriate ways to
respond during conversations about race, and also provided insights to what
might be driving adverse behaviors when the topic of race comes up. The
parallels she made for several concepts and the scientific work she cited made
Oluo’s work a useful tool to do just as the title suggests: talk about race.

It is worth commenting on Oluo’s writing style because it may
be reflective of how she came to prominence as a writer. The language Oluo uses
in her writing is both direct and casual which made the piece overall more
relatable. As she discussed issues of non-black people touching black women’s
hair without permission or the over-persecution of children of color in schools,
I was mentally snapping my fingers in approval because these are topics that I
know from experience that many of my peers never took the time to discuss. Reading
Oluo’s work felt as though she and I were swapping stories in a serious
conversation about race (though it was clearly one sided). Overall her book is
humorous and the informal approach, rather than detracts, compliments the
seriousness of the subject matter.

In the past, I have read several books about health
disparities and social justice which, like So
you want to talk about race
, were extremely enlightening. What makes this
book unique is how much the authors personality shines through the work, how
clear it became from the breadth of the novel that issues of race is a topic
that Oluo has pondered and experienced for years, and how useful the
suggestions she included may be to a broad audience. Simple pointers, such as
listening without invalidated the experiences of minorities and using the
internet to gain knowledge rather than demanding it from minorities, were
thoughtfully included in this book. Each component combined made for a great
read that I would recommend (and will be recommending) to others.

Generally speaking, reading So you want to talk about race was informative and a valuable use of my time. With all of this said, I would like to end by paying homage to my once neglected hobby by reminding readers this: make the time for yourself. If busyness is the excuse to abandon the activities you love, then you are probably missing out on a great part of your only life.

About the Author: Josiane Joseph is a Haitian-American MD-PhD student at Mayo Clinic. She was born in Miami, Florida and earned her BS at the University of Florida. During her free time she enjoys movies, writing, attending church, and learning about what makes other individuals unique. Josiane values discussions of meaningful issues and looks forward to sharing diverse views with others.

Feb 21, 2019 · What is a mob?

By Josiane Joseph

“…a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? … It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”

            Martin Luther King Jr.

In the present climate where people—whether they be women, minorities, immigrants, school-aged children, weapon owners, religious individuals, etc.—feel threatened, many important conversations have begun to take place. One theme that I have encountered frequently among friends and even on television is that mobs are impeding our freedom of speech. That is a loaded statement, full of fear and indignation. To be on the same page, first we have to define mob.

Mob has a negative connotation. Before looking up the term, I associated the word mob with anger and riots. A quick internet search confirmed that mob is commonly defined as a crowd that is not only violent but a source of trouble and disorganization. Using this definition, we can contemplate whether there is some truth to today’s mob issue or if there might be something else going on that is also worth considering.

In recent times when people mention mobs, they may use it to denounce the actions of a collection of individuals using social media to speak out against employing people who are guilty of or using goods and services from entities where at least one instance of sexual misconduct or racism occurred. In order for this dissenting internet crowd to be considered a mob, based on our former definition, their actions would have to be wildly negative. So that bears the question: is it bad to speak out against people or entities en masse on behalf of victims?

Perhaps, it is not merely that the people are speaking out that earns some folks behind the screens membership to the mob. Some have said that it is the demand for those involved in the two previously mentioned egregious acts (sexual misconduct or racism) to be terminated or criminally prosecuted that draws concerns. Though this does not directly impact free speech privileges, the issue could be that we have a judicial system that—if working properly—is responsible for prosecuting criminals based upon evidence. Such evidence is not usually accessible to our mob members that demand consequences with language that is not always friendly. Furthermore we have seen on multiple occasions that those requests for consequences or termination may spillover onto the supporters of the possibly guilty party. Here, the issue may seem plainer because it is mostly factual that by working, people earn the means to make the purchases that sustain their existence.  So it is possible that out of fear of compromising their livelihood, some people are choosing to stifle their true views of highly publicized accusations. Not many, whether they be criminals or otherwise, can maintain a productive life without being able to work. This makes the term mob seem more permissible; however, in order to understand the dynamics of the mob issue there are several other historical and social problems that should concurrently be considered.

Let’s speculate on how we could have come to a place where if a student wears blackface there is a swift push for expulsion, or if a guy takes a knee on the field there is a push for exclusion from a sports league. Passing over the controversial 2016 election and the present political chaos as potential contributors, we can consider how things were handled before the rise of social media mobs.

Consider how many times during those former days that we would hear of (or see) college students wearing blackface as Halloween costumes? Their black friends were granted the opportunity to party with gross caricatures of themselves on a day that celebrates all things that are scary or total jokes. And what would happen if those individuals were reported to their institutions? They might go through due process  whereby they have a meeting with a stern student conduct staff member and usually get what amounts to a slap on the wrist; at best the offender is provided some training on inclusivity. Then the same blackface scenario would take place again somewhere in the US (and possibly again at the same institution). Leaving us back to where we began with people wandering around society with a potent symbol of hate smeared all over their skin; a symbol that marks a period of time where the humanity of a multitude of people was questioned and mocked; a symbol much like the swastika. (Whether or not these young people know this does not change what the symbol represents nor does it ameliorate any of the additional trauma it incites.) Are repeated offenses like this enough to make people angry or lash-out mob-style? Could this subscription to passive ineffectual correction be the root cause of our mob issue? These are questions that people who cry mob should consider.

It is probably not necessary to discuss specific instances of sexual misconduct because we have all heard of or witnessed these often mishandled situations. Many of us might have even experienced the harassment and watched the perpetrator go on to live full lives— perhaps as Supreme Court Justices or as wealthy producers. (In case the assumption that we can forego an in-depth discussion about sexual misconduct is incorrect then consider the case of Brock Turner.) Which brings us to several questions that were alluded to in Dr. King’s quote: do mobs, particularly our current social media mobs, serve a purpose? Is it possible that instead of a mob issue, we have a neglected racism or sexual harassment issue?

Last thing that we should consider is this: is it healthy for people to avoid other people that have exhibited potential to cause them great harm? Should the answer to this question be yes, that implies that people have a right to NOT work alongside other people that are blatantly racist or that support sexual misconduct. Which then begs the question of whether or not “mobs” are too extreme by demanding the termination of offenders?

This piece is in no way in support of mobs (which inherently cause harm and harm is never a good solution). Rather it is something borne out of reflecting on multiple conversations and grappling for understanding. Understanding is something that may be lacking in today’s environment where people are struggling to meet their peers on an equal plain and move towards progress. If we do have a mob issue, to resolve it we must first understand it.

PS: Happy BLACK HISTORY month.

About the author: Josiane Joseph is a Haitian-American MD-PhD student at Mayo Clinic. She was born in Miami, Florida and earned her the University of Florida. During her free time she enjoys movies, writing, attending church, and learning about what makes other individuals unique. Josiane values discussions of meaningful issues and looks forward to sharing diverse views with others.

Oct 4, 2018 · Voting Supports Our Wellness

By: Josiane Joseph

In 2008, I was an unassuming teenager with serious goals that included finding ways to get to the beach and hoarding enough clothes to ensure that I always had a unique ensemble to wear. My understanding of the three branches of government was fair, but I harbored an excessive amount of apathy for those who contributed as leaders. This apathy persisted because, though it was not perfect, life was comfortable and I had no experiences with anything better.

What I failed to see then was how the civic motions shaped everything around me from my relationships to the food I was offered at school. For example, on a 100 degree day I might ask a classmate “hey, do you want to get ice cream from the vending machine” and immediately it could be shot down with: “Listen, it’s a recession. People are losing their homes out there. I can’t be using my lifesavings on a popsicle when water is free”. The other heads around would nod as the words “true” or “for real” rung out. Who could argue with that?  In fact I often used similar retorts to avoid dinner or movie plans. Gas was also costly then so in addition to calculating the cost to fund activities; I would have to factor in a few dollars to contribute to my friend’s tank. (It was better and easier to be broke at home.)

Photo Credit: Pexels

Amidst that recession, I witnessed a national first. After November 4th, 2008 the truth of Young Jeezy’s lyrics “My president is black, my lambo’s blue” blasted out of cars almost weekly, and celebration was rampant. The day of the election, I watched as minorities stood in tears on television screens; everyone was talking about our new president. Meanwhile I was trying to understand why people were making a big deal over something so simple as an election. Back then, I was blind to how my life would soon change for the better.

With that election I gained a First Lady truly concerned with the health of American people. For the first time I recognized her as she danced on my favorite shows to promote physical activity. Before my eyes was a reminder of how much I loved to dance. Though I would cringe while watching her eat kale chips, by 2013 she nearly had me convinced that kale was human food, and more incredibly I was almost sure that it was acceptable to have kale as the major portion of a meal. When I wore a pretty dress, rather than being compared to a professional twerker/singer, I was now likened to a woman with a law degree who supported someone in the highest office in the United States (though I rarely appreciate a comparison to another woman, at least I was associated to someone highly educated as I aspired to be).

In 2015, I got a new car and moved to Rochester, Minnesota. Instead of lamenting the gas prices as I was used to doing with friends in 2008, I was giggling over the phone with my sister about my plans to hold off on filling my tank until prices were back to somewhere below $1.50. There was no need to worry about how much gas I was burning from perpetually being lost in a new city because I had no substantial debt and was enrolled in a program with enough provision for my present and my future. That is the legacy I have from the Obama administration. An education entirely covered by merit based scholarships and government funding mechanisms. In 2015 I even had free health insurance. Financially, I could see nothing to hinder my ability to pursue my ambitions.

Leading up to the 2016 election, one of the major benefits touted by republican supporters was the economic benefit that would come from having a businessperson in office. But since then I have been watching (as I always do) for gas prices to fall below even $2, and I have not been granted the opportunity to giggle with my sister about those savings. I am paying for health insurance that I avoid using (because of cost among other valid concerns). Compounding this offense is the constant news of budget cuts to education (which often affect STEM programs like those I benefited from) and FEMA (which is particularly pertinent to the ability of Floridians to bounce back after disasters), and no good plan for making healthcare accessible. All of these trends have continued while republicans have held an advantage in at least the legislative branch of government (but more recently all three branches).

At my current stage in life, I can no longer accept my life as comfortable. Not when I have experienced executive leadership without bullying and scandal attached. Not after I have personally improved from an active and honorable first lady. And especially not after I nearly had affordable healthcare in my sight and lived the life of someone never denied a quality education. That is why I am planning to show up for midterm elections on November 6th.

That people with higher education and access to primary care have better health outcomes is a well-established concept. Furthermore, a healthy and educated demographic is more likely to support the economy. Considering this information those concerned with the economy should see that it just makes sense to support candidates that take human health and education seriously.

From 2008-2016 the US was represented by a pair of individuals that have tangibly improved my health through health advocacy and legislation. The economic circumstances they (or at least the president) contributed to freed my mind of unrealistic financial obligations so that I had room to mature as a dancing adult that understood that my health is my business. And by simply existing the Obamas changed the language around me so that I knew to aspire to more for myself and for others. It alarms me that children after me might be influenced by lack (like we all were in the era before 2008) and will have to develop without examples of integrity in the white house. It is for all of these reasons that I am looking forward to future elections. America is a great home where many citizens and residents benefit greatly from the present democracy. But can we improve circumstances for the next generation? “Yes we can.” So let’s move “forward” on November 6th.

About the author:

Josiane Joseph is a Haitian-American MD-PhD student at Mayo Clinic. She was born in Miami, Florida and earned her BS at the University of Florida. During her free time she enjoys movies, writing, attending church, and learning about what makes other individuals unique. Josiane values discussions of meaningful issues and looks forward to sharing diverse views with others.

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