Throughout Black History Month, we are celebrating important figures in Black History and the scholars whose dreams they help make possible. Dr. Chika Stacy Oriuwa is a healthcare hero, spoken word artist, and advocate who is standing up and making a difference.
Dr. Chika Stacy Oriuwa is Standing Up and Speaking Out
Long before she spent her days standing up for Black healthcare, Dr. Chika Stacy Oriuwa remembers being a little girl playing with Barbies. She dressed up her Barbies as doctors, poets, and performers. But none of the dolls looked quite like her or the woman she aspired to be. Now they do. Exactly.
The fashion doll manufacturer honored Dr. Oriuwa with her own Barbie, to commemorate her efforts combatting racism in health care. It’s one of many honors for the doctor, spoken word artist, and Time magazine Next Generational Leader and advocate against systemic racism in healthcare.
Dr. Oriuwa’s career was (and is) strewn with microaggressions and overt racism. In 2020, as Time reported, Dr. Oriuwa became the only Black woman ever selected as sole valedictorian at the University of Toronto’s medical school, the only Black graduate in her class of 259, and the only Black resident in her training cohort.
She proudly wears this title to ensure that those who follow in her footsteps do not have to shoulder those burdens. Dr. Oriuwa uses her platform to shine a light on racism in the medical field – in the underrepresentation of Black doctors, and the overdiagnosis or lack of proper treatment for Black patients. She also pushes against systemic racial disparities in her role with the Ontario Black Youth Action Plan.
Dr. Oriuwa is standing up for Black healthcare through her clinic work, advocacy, and her presence. She does it during Black History Month – this year’s theme is Black Health & Wellness – and all year long.
Evelyn, Twelfth Grader
Like Dr. Oriuwa, Evelyn wants to right the wrongs perpetrated against Black people and people of color. And, she wants to bring (and see) diversity in the career she ultimately pursues.
Second-semester senior year is a time when some students take their foot off the gas pedal. To them, it’s time to coast toward post-graduation plans. This is not the case for Evelyn. As a 12th grader at AF Hartford High School, Evelyn is deeply involved in (and outside) the classroom. Right now, Evelyn’s favorite subject is AP government because it allows her to look at history and examine what needs to be changed. She uses and ties this knowledge with her ongoing advocacy work. To her, learning and applying school teachings into her daily life is transformative because she does not have to wait until she’s an adult to make a difference and address racially corrupt systems. Learning how the U.S. Constitutional Amendments apply, inform, and shape her daily life also invigorates what she does outside the classroom.
In her young life, Evelyn has already accomplished so much. She connects with local leaders and decision-makers, rallies young people for marches, and organizes protests against injustices. Evelyn wants to change the world by doing what she knows best: making people feel empowered, meeting people where they are, and using her voice.
Evelyn knows that systemic racial disparities exist and must be changed. Like Dr. Oriuwa, Evelyn exudes a love of advocacy work and passion to speak out against injustices. And that is vital to building a better world where the next generation of Black changemakers can flourish and prosper.
For inspiring moments in Black History and American History, follow our social media this month!