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Third Roadmap Stop

“It is time to listen: A conversation with our community”

Date: February 25, 2021

Hosts: Drs. Heidi Zapata, Mahalia Desruisseaux, and Joanna Radin

Speakers: James Walker, Stacey Fields, Vanessa Brown, and Nadine Ruff

The pandemic has inspired us to develop and implement an innovative curriculum within the Infectious Disease section to begin to address racism and health inequities that we have been seeing with our patients. However, we also want to educate ourselves about why and how these issues are present in our health care system. We have spent our last two stops on this roadmap learning about the historical reasons for mistrust, such as the history of medical experimentation on Black Americans in our first session. In our second session we learned about the origins and continuing influence of redlining and how the health of communities of color, including in the neighborhoods that are adjacent to Yale’s medical campus, has been negatively impacted. In this session, we listened actively to New Haven residents who have been affected by this past and continuing history, so we can understand their current reasons for mistrust and reflect on how we can do better. What is still going on in the present that we can change?

In this stop, we are here to listen actively to four people who have important things to say about their own experiences in accessing healthcare and about those whom they support. We welcome them as reliable knowers of those experiences. Listening actively is paying attention to what is being said without rushing to respond, even if you disagree with what you are hearing. It means reflecting on how what you are hearing makes you feel, especially if it brings up uncomfortable or ugly emotions. And it means “staying with the trouble”—rather than trying to get rid of those bad feelings, or to lapse into helplessness and hopelessness, recognizing them for what they are: evidence that you are entering into the hard and real work of anti-racism. Active listening is an essential precondition to any kind of change, big or small. Let me put it more directly: listening is a form of action—a way of bringing about change.


  1. Listen: We wish to actively listen to Black representatives of New Haven residents regarding their personal experiences, views and concerns about the health care system and mistrust.
  2. Understanding: By listening we hope to gain a better understanding of experienced racism and of mistrust of the health care system.
  3. Reflection: Reflect on what can we do better to restore trust? How we can bridge the gap?