THE FINAL MISSIVE: Northwestern’s Fourth Convening

June McKoyGuest post by Northwestern Public Voices Fellow June M. McKoy, MD, MPH, JD, and MBA. June is Associate Professor of Medicine and Program Director, Geriatric Medicine Fellowship, Director of Geriatric Oncology and Member, IPHAM at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

I will never look at a movie the same way again. I will never hear of melting ice in the arctic and simply walk away, nor look at prisons as just walls that shelter criminals, nor question why corruption in Morocco matters. I have had the honor of listening to new voices that are fresh, powerful, informed, and unaffected by convention.   I am a Public Voices Thought Leadership Fellow.

photo 3Why do we do what we do?  We want to take ownership of our voices. To speak out responsibly, to change minds, to galvanize a community to action, and to re-engineer public policy. The OpEd project has shared the tools of powerful argument with us and has cultivated within us a shared sense of social responsibility. We are the children of academic incubators and we hold great ideas that have been fertilized, but not disseminated. Now we have learned how to extricate the jargon from our ideas, re-package our expertise and share it with the world.

What will be our legacy?  We look through telescopic lenses and it informs our notion of the world around us. We speak of pathologizing crimes of the rich and warn that actions have consequences that reverberate throughout society. We call for values driven leadership and organizational authenticity, and we write that women make great leaders because they are more collaborative and inclusive than men. We have called attention to elder abuse and other aging issues, spoken out against racism in medicine and have taken big pharma to task about the rising cost of cancer drugs in America.

photo 2Over the past six months, we have convened, reviewed, reflected, brainstormed and constructively pitched a range of ideas to media gate-keepers. So what? Why us? Why now?

Our words matter.

My mother used to tell me that “children should be seen, but not heard.” This was her way of instilling in me the manners passed down to her from her mother. But I’m not a child anymore. I am no longer invisible. I have important things to say. Lopsided gendered voices must give way to the progressive voices of women.

Our ideas are not niched. Neither are they hardwired into gender specific notions of the world and its problems.  We have brought our collective, eclectic, and broad intellectual perspectives to bear on every discourse in the public arena.   We have bravely spoken for Mrs. Triggs in response to the maxim “That’s an excellent suggestion Miss Triggs.  Perhaps one of the men here would like to make it.”

We speak now because it is imperative that we do. We speak now to democratize the conversation and transform the world. To be sure, the women who  tell the stories own history.

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