Season 6, Episode 1
January 23, 2022
Theme: Medical Professionals
On January 23, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 pandemic to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. And here we are, two years later, still dealing with the pandemic. I don’t need to explain what we’ve lived through to anybody who is listening today. But should this episode of Community Radio be heard by anyone in the future unaware of what it felt like to live through this, let me briefly share a few thoughts. It was the worst. In the early days, death and confusion spread quickly. This – at least here in the United States – is in large part due to the failures of President Trump and his administration. They failed to take the disease, or their responsibility to respond to it, seriously.
For months, misinformation and lies were spread by the Republican party and its apparatus, including Fox News. This public malfeasance greatly contributed to the decision by millions of people to disregard safety mandates at every opportunity. Instead of wearing masks or getting vaccinated for the benefit of themselves and their community, they chose to protest the supposed loss of their individual freedom. So the pandemic drags on, with our leaders’ continued inability to reckon with a changing world. The old way of doing things simply can not be maintained.
This is the battle that has always and will likely always be fought: people in positions of power making it harder for those without to make the necessary changes for the benefit of all. It wasn’t until the mid-19th century that the United States had its first female doctor. Elizabeth Blackwell had been constantly rebuffed in her desire to study medicine, until in October 1847, when she was accepted into Geneva Medical School in Syracuse, New York. She presented her thesis on the topic of typhus before graduating on January 13, 1849, becoming the first woman to achieve a medical degree in the United States.
As we begin another season of Community Radio, it is worth restating our mission at WRBP: in the face of ignorance, of denial, of hate and oppression, we persevere; we stand in solidarity; we reform. We are working for a world in which people who have put the work into understanding complex topics, like pandemics, or respiratory illness, or typhus, are trusted, rather than some dipshit rich kid who suggests putting bleach in our veins.
Of course, not everyone with a degree or the first to do something is perfectly admirable. Elizabeth Blackwell, for example, wrote against vaccinations in favor of…personal freedom (and improving hygienic conditions). So, we’re not here to start a Blackwell fan club. We just need a theme for the episode. So, in recognition of these two anniversaries, our theme is medical professionals.