February 26, 2010

The Good Doctor - Dr. Regina Benjamin

President Obama stirred up unexpected controversy this past summer by nominating Dr. Regina Benjamin as the new Surgeon General.  The nomination of a Surgeon General rarely causes much interest, but Dr. Benjamin was all the talk nation-wide, from newspapers, to blogs, to television news shows. What was the issue? 

As salon.com's Broadsheet blog  and ABC news online asked, Is the good doctor too fat to be Surgeon General?

I think it is unfortunate that while Dr. Benjamin may not be what Americans envision as "the picture of health," such as celebrity images of ultra-thin women wearing a pair of skinny jeans perhaps three weeks post childbirth posed in downward facing dog, the conversation about her vision for our country's health care stopped there.  While some online sources such as CNN.com and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation blog shared her credentials, accolades, and vision of health care reform, especially for the oppressed and underserved, were Americans unable to actually have a conversation about how important her vision of health care is for contemporary American society?

Imagine this headline: Dr. Regina Benjamin, Obama's pick for Surgeon General, motivates thousands of Americans to volunteer throughout poor and underserved coummunites nationwide, to advocate for and provide hands-on services to those in desperate need of medical and mental health care.  OK, I admit, it is a little long for a headline, and I recognize that there are those who are sensitive and aware of  the needs of our most vulnerable citizens.  However, I would hope that more conversation would have been had and perhaps a grassroots campaign started to support the work of Dr. Benjamin and mobilize volunteers throughout our nation instead of criticizing her appearance and her health (despite no actual information about her health). Even so, let's focus on what is most important here, her recognition of and dedication to the health of all individuals and communities in need.

Instead of criticizing President Obama's nomination, let's write to him thanking him for one more step in the right direction and suggestions for organizing and supporting the work of Dr. Benjamin! Email us at the WCC with any thoughts and/or suggestions.

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