All my life I’ve realized that I was black. Well, not all my life however when I think back there is not a moment where I do not recall being aware of my skin color. Even at a young age I remember kids in my class telling me that I couldn’t drink white milk because I was not white I had to drink chocolate milk. Growing up I have realized that my country views me differently and that there is a second set of rules that applies to me; a set of rules that has nothing to do with fairness or equality. Growing up I have always been told that I must be twice as smart, twice as talented, and twice as successful to get half of what my white counterparts had. Through my years of living I have realized it as a harsh truth.
Being black I learned about our history of enslavement, lynchings, rapes, beatings, etc. I have learned about the “war of northern aggression”. I have learned about the constant attempt to subjugate my race. I have learned about Tulsa, race riots Jim Crow. I have even learned about the civil rights movement. I have never been deluded in thinking that I was somehow considered equal with my white counterparts. I have always known that inequality was still present, that racism was still an ugly abscess that festered in America hidden and indurated under its lily white skin.
In my family we talk about people getting their black wake up call. A call to awaken them from a deluded dream of mistakingly thinking that somehow they were viewed as equal with their white counterparts. Being as “woke” as I thought I was I received mine for a second time as a 42 yr old woman when I realized through the murder and lack of justice for Breonna Taylor that I am not safe in my own home. Erroneously I believed that in America the days of whites breaking into the homes of blacks unannounced and killing them was no longer tolerated. I never was delusional in the believing that it did not occur; but imprudently I assumed that in my home I was safe. Misguidedly I believed that those that would choose to violate the sanctity of my home would be brought to justice. I foolishly felt that in America at least in my home I had nothing to fear. As a mother I believed that if my child if my son could just make it home he could be protected.
I grow weary and tired. I am weary and tired. I am done in.
I will voice the names of those who are supposed to protect my family and call them to act. I will voice the names of those who fail to act, who fail to enact, who fail to heed the call to action. I will voice their names for those names that I cannot bear to say anymore.
While I aim to be my son’s friend I also realize that my job as a parent is to love him, affirm him, and discipline him. Bell Hooks, in All About Love, states that “Abuse and neglect negate love”. Earlier in the same chapter she denounced hitting and draws no differentiation between disciplining and punishing. However, there is a difference. Punishment is focused on the past and is rooted in anger. Discipline however is focused on the future and is rooted in love and care. Even God disciplines.
“At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.”
Hebrews 12:11 MSG
I write this not to change your mind but to be a voice of those who spank our children but in the current climate feel that we must hide in the shadows for fear of judgment. I speak out to voice that there is a difference between spanking and abuse and when we really honestly and openly talk about it we know the difference.
Know your worth! Acknowledge your worth! Declare your worth!
Care for your heart
Love yourself first
Treat Her Like A Lady:
How Can You Say That It’s Over:
I’ll Keep My Light In My Window:
If you are looking for an album of love this month and don’t mind a “retro” sound. Check out Truly For You by the Temptations.
I have had patients pray over me, for me, and give their advice. I’ve had patient ask me to pray for them, ask me to celebrate in their triumphs and cry with them in their sorrow. It is a truly an honor this vocation to which we have been called.
I look forward to new conversations, new atmosphere, new stories, new interactions. I look forward!
Options for non-board certified physicians
Still unempowered, I kept my secret to myself and the chosen few I had opened up to and prepared to take the exam again. I partnered with others who like me had not passed and we studied together and supported each other during the lows of doubt and insecurity. I worked full time, studied when I could, and was a mother the whole way through; and I failed.
Wow, that word even now as I type it hurts. I had taken this test a total of 3 times and had yet to pass. I began to spiral down a dark hole. How was I going to support my family? How was I going to pay back my massive student loan debt? As a single parent, I am the sole provider for me and my son. In one year I would lose my board eligibility; essentially my career as a physician was on the brink of being over as well as my means of supporting my family!
There are few options now a days for physicians who do not have the desired title of Board Certified. Hospitals privileges are unattainable, insurance companies unwilling too “allow” you to be a provider for their patients. Practices refrain from wanting you if you are not BC/BE. Four years of medical school, 3 years of residency, MCAT, USMLE exams all completed, state licensure obtained, DEA license purchased, and still one exam preventing me from the career I long desired, dreamed, and dedicated my early youth for. There was no other choice—something had to change. I contacted the ABIM to see what my options were as this was my last year of eligibility. My prime question centered around my options if I didn’t pass this year. On the website there was a statement:
“A candidate who is no longer Board Eligible may nevertheless apply for a certifying examination, but only if the candidate has: (i) completed at least one year of retraining in the relevant specialty after the expiry of the candidate’s period of Board Eligibility, but no more than seven years before the application; and (ii) met all other requirements for Board Certification in effect at that time. Retraining will require the successful completion of at least one year of additional residency/fellowship training in an ACGME-accredited U.S. training program or an RCPSC-accredited Canadian training program and an attestation from the program that the candidate has demonstrated the requisite competency for unsupervised practice. Candidates and diplomates remain subject to other ABIM policies and requirements for certification, such as the Re-examination policy.”
I nevertheless followed their instructions because I had no choice and reached out to my former director. She to her dismay had no concrete information about what a retraining year looked like either. She assured me she would contact the ABIM and see what she could learn but advised me not to give up; since I had one last year to take the exam. She suggested that I get in touch with the Testing Center on campus to see if I had a testing or learning disability. Could that be it? Did I have an undiagnosed learning or testing disability that evaded me for years only now to rear its head? She doubted it but it needed to be evaluated. Speaking with the counselor it became clear that she agreed; it was highly unlikely that I had a learning or testing disability that had not previously shown up. So what was the issue? Well one of the pieces that the counselor helped me discover was that I have a hard time trusting myself and taking a leap of faith in myself. Another issue was that I have a tendency to answer the question that I think I’m being asked not the question that is being asked.
So armed with this I decided I needed to take a step back and focus solely on this exam and being a mom. So I did. I quit my job, neglected my friends and devoted myself to my son and my exam. I fought through self-doubt constantly. I second guessed myself on every question. Thinking I was missing something. Fearing that I somehow did not learn what I needed to in 8 years of training. Why did I feel this way; because others before me had seemingly passed this test with ease. Here I was on the brink of failure with no safety net; nothing to fall back on. Despite years of caring for patients and living my dream I was in jeopardy of loosing it all. I doubted my calling. I never doubted God, but I doubted that I heard Him correctly. I doubted that I was on His path for my life. I was ashamed and alone. I bore this shame in secret because to do otherwise was considered taboo and a marker of weakness.
As the exam grew closer my anxiety increased and my confidence dwindled. In the last month of the exam I lived and breathed nothing else. My parents looked after my son while I studied. With each question I answered correctly my confidence grew and with each question I missed it was shattered into a million pieces. The few people that I opened up to about my failure would ask how the studying was going...others would offer prayers and well wishes. I felt inadequate, fraudulent I couldn’t figure out how I was able to take care of patients but still was not deemed worthy based on a test. I then came across three quotes from Michelle Obama:
“When you are struggling, and you start thinking about giving up, I want you to remember something that my husband and I have talked about since we first started this journey nearly a decade ago—something that has carried us through every moment in this White House and every moment of our lives—and that is the power of hope. The belief that something better is always possible if you’re willing to work for it and fight for it.” – Michelle Obama
“Am I good enough? Yes I am.”– Michelle Obama
“If my future were determined just by my performance on a standardized test, I wouldn’t be here. I guarantee you that.”― Michelle Obama
The day came and I sat for the exam and as I was logged in by the proctor I prayed. I thanked God for my calling and vocation and began my exam. When I finished I felt spent; I truly had done all that I could. If this was not enough I had no idea what the next step was and apparently neither did those at the ABIM. But what I knew for sure was that no matter what the test said I was enough. While I seemingly had to pass this test in order to continue on the traditional path of medicine I would not let it determine or limit my future. I am a doctor and I always will be.
Written By: Kharia J. Holmes
This article was originally published on WomenInWhiteCoats.com
2019 has been a year of trials and tribulations. If I had to name this year I’d call it “Love Through Adversity”. I quit my job in March to give me time to focus on being a mother to my son and also to give me time to study and prepare for my board exams. As I look forward to the year 2020 I pray that I will be able to bring forth the lessons and strength I gained into the new year.
Last year I started a trend of categorizing my resolutions based on the www domains so the saga continues.
TEASER: I’m also planning on a new platform launch this year so stay tuned
This year is here and I choose this year to find joy in the journey! Come along with me!
Living inter-generationally is not an easy feat and truly it’s not to be entered into lightly. While I’ve never been married I think I’m safe when I say that it’s almost as perilous as marriage. So my quick story in how I ended up living intergenerationally was that I have a home about 1 hour away from my ‘rents. I became pregnant, made the decision to raise my child as a single mother, and changed jobs and my parents house was closer.
So it started out as a temporary change due to logistics that has continued on due to convince and a sense of familia. Going through this process there are things that I have learned about what it takes to live successfully as a GAWD (Grown Ass Woman Da** It) with your parents in their house.
Even if you are moving in with your parents to save money—do not take advantage of their good nature. Contributions to the household needs no matter how small go a long way. My parents won’t let me pay rent because in their mind I’m paying for a mortgage which is true. So I buy food to keep the fridge stocked. If there is something that is needed like a new filter for the fridge I’ll purchase it. Laundry detergent, soap, lotion, etc things that we can all benefit from I purchase so that they do not. Its a small token and way to give back to them.
BE FLEXIBLE AND PATIENT:
Flexibility and patience go hand in hand. If your parents are anything like mine they raised you to respect your elders and also to have a strong personality. Living in a combined house with such strong personalities can cause friction. Add on raising a child as a single parent and you have a potentially explosive situation with a differing of opinions. I will admit my head is hot at times and I’m very strong willed, I was raised to be so by my parents. As a grown woman living in my parents house patience and flexibility have been imperative skills; and I must admit that I am still cultivating them ??♀️.
I used to truly hate this time of year! As a constantly single woman; the impending V-Day (and no V does not stand for Voldemort) brings dread, feelings of loneliness and memories of old relationship haunts. Luckily through the years I learned that singleness is not loneliness and I now cherish Valentines Day whether I’m in a relationship or not because it’s a day that I celebrate my love of self and the non-romantic love that others have shown me🥰! I hope that doesn’t sound selfish; I’ve realized that to celebrate my singleness means to celebrate myself, being comfortable with my own company, and. acknowledging the ways that others have shown their love to me. No don’t get a sistah wrong if I had a man I would want to be spending Valentines Day with him; but with the day being commercialized and focused on couples and boo's it can make a single gal feel left out 😕.
So I thought I would share with other single persons and parents what I do to mark this season of self love and reflection of non-romantic love in my life:
It’s the little things that make me happy these days not extravagance. Loving myself and showing my love for others is the best way to celebrate Valentine’s Day and really every day of the year! How are you going to spend your Valentine's Day?
Embracing my imperfection and striving for perfection through grace.