A Commitment to Community
Uncertainty about the future is on everyone’s mind these days, and our nation seems deeply divided across a wide range of international, political, social and cultural issues. We are just a few weeks into the New Year, and most of us, regardless of our ideological affiliations are contemplating the manner in which we should move forward, professionally and personally. These are the times when we find out about our own commitment, search ourselves for our inner strength, and decide what we’re willing to fight for. As bestselling author Thisuri Wanniarachchi said,
“Life is at its best when everything has fallen out of place, and you decide that you’re going to fight to get them right, not when everything is going your way and everyone is praising you.”
UMMA was created 20 years ago at a time when seemingly everything had fallen out of place, and a group of socially conscious medical students determined that they needed to try to put things right, to heal the wounds of the community, and champion social justice. Being a champion is key at these times. In that vein, during the last few weeks, I have had an ear worm. Neither an illness nor an actual worm in my ear, rather I have had a song that has been running through my head over and over. There is a song called “Hall of Fame” by the group The Script featuring Will.i.am that has the following lyrics:
I have never felt the poignancy of these lyrics more so than now. I remember the child I met last month at the clinic who wanted to be an astronaut. I look at my son who thinks he can be mayor. Children understand that the future is all about possibilities, a fact we adults often forget. We cannot and should not give up our dreams for equity and justice even when the current political environment is stifling and fraught with unforeseen dangers. We need to continue to be champions for what we know to be right.
We wish to encourage you all to get involved in community action that will help benefit South Los Angeles, a vibrant community that is often unfairly maligned in the media and popular culture. At a time, when the Oxford Dictionary has declared “post-truth” as its 2016 international word of the year, I want to encourage you all to be truth-seekers and truth-spreaders. In this time of national turmoil, I want to encourage all to come to South Los Angeles to eat, shop and walk around, taking note of the resiliency that exists here. To see the assets. The dreamers. The believers. The champions. And to see how much more we can do to help.
Months ago I noted, and will do so again–UMMA will continue to provide high quality health care to all in need regardless of ability to pay, race, religion, language spoken or any other reason. We are here for the people. We are here for the community. We are here for the dreamers and believers. We will not let you down.
We continue to see our community members enter through our doors in need of attention and we are here to provide that, regardless of the national turmoil that surrounds us. Our staff continues to grow professionally and personally (for example, two staff members were just accepted to college). We will continue to provide the strong shoulders for our staff to stand on, many of whom are from the South Los Angeles community, to reach even greater economic and academic standing. Future leaders are coming from South Los Angeles and they will speak truth to power, but we must be here to support them and act as shields from the rising tide of instability.
In the midst of this tumultuous season, I personally remain steadfast in my belief in a fair America where our kids will reach a world of health equity and not fear being targeted for their race, gender, religion or immigration status. UMMA promises that in turbulent times we will stand tall and plant firm roots in the conscious of our society. We will be champions for the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses aching for a world free of pain.