Is your zip code a better predictor of healthcare outcomes than your genetic code?

We invite you to sit with Reischea and Julie in the discomfort of a critical yet challenging and complex conversation exploring healthcare disparities.

Our guide through this exploration is Dr. Renee Branch Canady, CEO of Michigan Public Health Institute, a visionary in the field of public health and author of “Room at the Table: A Leader’s Guide to Advancing Health Equity and Justice.”

Dr. Canady brings to the table not just her professional insights but also a wealth of personal stories that illuminate the path from acknowledging healthcare inequities to actively addressing them.

This episode looks at a few threads of history, from the lingering shadows of the Tuskegee trials to present-day battles for inclusive health practices. We talk about the policies that shape our health system, dissect societal attitudes toward healthcare, and share a few personal narratives that put a human face on the statistics.

All to answer: what does it truly mean to have equitable healthcare?

Through Dr. Canady’s eyes, we see not just the barriers, but the breakthroughs—how communities are innovating, how policies are evolving, and how individuals are advocating for change.

Watch now and subscribe to Think Tank of Three, where we’re choosing to sit in the discomfort — to grow together — one conversation at a time.

Learn more about Dr. Renee Branch Canady and MPHI and her book Room at the Table: A Leader’s Guide to Advancing Health Equity and Justice.

Podcast Transcript – Breaking Barriers in Healthcare Equity with Dr. Renee Branch Canady

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: All right, you know, Jules, when people think about the words diversity, equity, inclusion, and of course now that those become ridiculously labeled as the dirty words, whatever, uh, they tend to think about the workplace, college, university life, um, as in, you know, they don’t often necessarily think about healthcare, like receiving healthcare, like working in the healthcare field.

Um, history has shown us. that especially in the black community, health care is kind of a sketchy thing. We saw in COVID, there were a lot of black folk who were skeptical of the, the shot, uh, the vaccination reaching back to when you ask them the Tuskegee medical trials. And if you don’t know what that is, that was when Almost 400 black men were brought in for a quote study on what was considered bad blood and they were thinking that they were being treated.

They were thinking that they were figuring out what’s happening. They thought there was this control group and then the group that, you know, and so they’re thinking, excuse me, that they’re all involved in a study and learning come to find out. No. They just wanted to see what it was doing to you. You will get treated.

Julie Holton: Yeah. Let’s be clear. They were lied

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: to. They were lied to. They weren’t being treated at all. There was no study going on. It was literally just using black men in essence as lab rats just to see just out of curiosity. And that’s some BS. So when you look, when you have that, In the back burner constantly, you come, you become skeptical.

I don’t want to go see that doctor. You know, what are they going to tell me? And this and that and the other, or all kinds of, of different situations. You’ve got a situation where you don’t necessarily have, you don’t see yourself in your medical professional. Your medical professional doesn’t see themselves.

So many things going to medical school, the cost associated with that, how generational wealth or lack thereof affects your ability to think about those terms. So all of this stuff is real. And even the most recent one, and then I’ll, I’ll stop my diatribe general Austin Lloyd, right? Our secretary of defense just went through prostate cancer, um, surgery.

Didn’t. Tell the white house and I’m not trying to get political, but this whole situation, he comes out and explains that he realizes that he failed in that regard of not telling the white house what was going on. But what he, what I listened to even more was it wasn’t just his duty to inform the white house and the American people.

It was his duty. And he said it himself to inform the American people. Why? Because as a black man, Black men need to know, go get your prostate checked out because there could be issues. And the fact that he kept it in, he even said, he’s like, I played into our own issues instead of coming out and saying, this is what’s going on.

Go see your doctor. So all of these things.

Julie Holton: I feel that. I mean, you, you said that and I, I feel that, I mean, regardless of position, we have a black man. Who’s still at his core, did not have the trust, perhaps, right? I mean, I don’t want to put words into his mouth, but, you know, Rish, to your point too, this isn’t just something, like, that example just happened.

And this is not, when we’re talking about inequities in healthcare, it, we’re not talking about hundreds of years ago. We’re talking about right now. And, you know, I have a personal story, uh, related to the Tuskegee medical trials. Um, you can see I’m a white girl, grew up in a, in a white community, and, um, at one point I was a volunteer with the Alzheimer’s Association.

I went on to serve on the board for, for seven, seven years, but in the very beginning I was a volunteer and I was giving volunteer presentations and just, just to educate people. These were things like how to recognize the top 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s. The black community, the Latino community, highly affected by Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

And so a lot of this work I was doing was going into community centers for free, into churches, to talk about the 10 signs. And so here I am, oftentimes in black churches, walking in, you know, as, as white girl Julie. To have these conversations. And I remember, and I so appreciated this conversation. I remember one of the first times that I went into a black church, the very first question that was asked to me, you know, I go through this whole song and dance of this presentation and I’m feeling really good.

And, and then someone, the first hand raised said, Why should we listen to you? Have you ever heard about the Tuskegee medical trials? And I knew pieces, but I thought, to me, I thought, well, I certainly don’t know what they know. I certainly don’t feel, you know, that’s the first question right out of the gate.

I must not know what they know or feel what they feel. And so my response was, tell me about it. And, and tell me how I can help because in that moment, and I, we ended up just having a very, um, loving conversation about, I don’t know what I don’t know, and I don’t know what I don’t experience, but there has to be a way for us to affect change.

And I think part of that change comes from. flipping the script, turning the story around and making sure that as a community of health care providers, as a community of people like us reach with a podcast that we are talking about what’s going wrong in the system and better yet how to also fix it. But it starts with that at its core, what are these inequities and then how do we start turning things around so that people are receiving the health care.

That they deserve. And I’m so excited to introduce our guest today because she, her work is doing just that.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: Amen. Amen. Think Tank of Three starts right now.

Thank you so much for tuning in to Think Tank of Three podcast alongside my amazing co host, Julie Holton. I am Rishi, a candidate Kappasaurus.

Julie Holton: Our guest today, we are so excited to introduce you to our third on the podcast. Dr. Renee Branch Kennedy is leading the charge in developing equity within our healthcare system.

She is the CEO of the Michigan Public Health Institute, where their goal is advancing population health through public health innovation and collaboration. We’re going to have her break down what all of that means and why it’s so important. Dr. Kennedy also just recently released a book that everyone should read.

It is called Room at the Table. This book addresses not just the inequities within healthcare, uh, but how to deal with those issues head on. So, Starting with yourself. And I think this will also translate across other industries. She shares her wisdom through her stories on the front lines. It’s always great to have that frontline experience as an equity public health leader, Dr.

Kennedy. It is awesome to have you with us on the show

Dr. Renee Canady: today. Thank you. Thank you both so very much. I love even the sound of a think tank of three. We should all be setting these up in our lives. Thank you. Well,

Julie Holton: thank you for being here. And you know, our intro reached went a little bit longer than we normally do, because I think this is one of those times when everyone needs to get up on their soapbox to talk about this.

Shout it from the rooftops. And Dr. Kennedy, I want to just dive right into the deep end, because I really think that for some in our audience, um, that it might actually be a surprise, unfortunately, a surprise to hear that there are inequities in our health care system. And I want to actually honor that because I think that, um, there’s no shame if you’re hearing this for the first time, there is no shame.

If you don’t know, if you haven’t, if you heard Tuskegee medical trials and that didn’t ring a bell, that’s okay, but Google it, learn about it. So I think for half of our audience, I’m making up numbers, but for some of some in our audience, this is, this is a surprise. They’re of this problem. for the other half of our audience.

This is something that they are living every day. So can you first paint this picture and set the scene on this work you’re doing? Because the CDC said that racism is a public threat to our health care. Talk about this. What have you seen in your experience?

Dr. Renee Canady: Yeah, I appreciate, uh, first of all, thank you for the passion from both of you in your opening.

And, you know, we have a narrative in these United States and, and let me say, I grew up in a military family. My father was a career serviceman. My brother is a West Point graduate. They both are, um, veterans of war and so deeply patriotic. I want to make that very clear, but we have some. Opportunities for growth in our country, right?

We have lots of narrative that says, you know, we are created equally and that this country is about access and availability and fairness and justice. And we say those things so often that many, many people who do not experience the other side of that coin think that we’ve achieved that. And I’ll offer that there are also highly educated.

Um, well employed people of color that believe they’ve never experienced any injustices. And so, um, there is a bit of a flawed narrative because when we see the alternative and we see the contradictory outcomes and experiences of people, it does live, leave many folk aghast like, well, I mean, I thought, well, I never knew great now that you know, better, you We’re going to do better together.

We continue to see patterns of groups of people being disproportionately, um, at risk for negative outcomes and in their health and in their well being. And I do appreciate the Centers for Disease Control announcement that they said, racism is the threat, not race. Sometimes we’ll say that the risk factor is race.

No, the risk factor is racism. There’s nothing genetically wrong with Risha or myself because we check the black box. The risk and the problem is the exposures that people of color experience in our lives because we happen

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: to check that box. It’s, it’s so interesting because You know, people really, they sometimes just, they don’t, I don’t even have the words for it.

It’s like, they just don’t get it. They, they don’t get that at the end of the day, human is human. Person is person. Oh, I dealt with some doozies in my, When I was in, uh, middle school specifically, and I don’t know if they were honestly just being jerks or if they were truly ignorant. I’m kind of leaning to the, to the, they were really just kind of being jerk side because I remember one saying, well, like, what color is your blood if you get cut?

And I’m like, seriously, seriously. I, you know, but there are, people do tend to have these random questions about, um, gosh, I remember I, what was I watching? I was watching some. Report or whatever. And I think someone was saying along the lines of,

Dr. Renee Canady: well, for

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: black people, you know, they They’ve experienced more pain, so they can handle more pain.

And that’s why, you know, and, and, and it’s stuff like that. It’s like, you’re not, we need to deal with the issues, the health issues that are happening, not the health issues that are in your mind that you think don’t exist because, well, this person is black. So they’re just kind of saying what they’re saying.

And it’s, it’s scary because that means someone is completely getting a different healthcare. If at all, uh, and, and, and it’s, it’s, it’s mind, it’s mind boggling because it’s 2024. And one of those reasons we have this situation is also because of, and I know it’s a completely different subject and I won’t veer off that far, I will just say this, this is where book banning comes in.

Because when you are banning education, when you are banning situations, I could very easily say, well, we don’t need to talk about the Tuskegee medical trials. That was a horrible time. We don’t need to act when you ignore that stuff. That’s why you have situations where you have, where you have, uh, General Austin, uh, saying, you know, I didn’t, I needed to say something and I didn’t.

And the reason I didn’t is Because as a black man, we just don’t talk about it.

Dr. Renee Canady: Well, there, I, I like to quote the work of Margaret Whitehead, who describes health disparities as patterned and systemic. And we know that they’re patterned and systemic because just like you told a blood donor, Story. I can tell.

I just recently told the story of being in college doing blood typing and my lab partner who was a white woman insisting that I must have done my wrong because I was B positive. And she said, Well, you can’t be B positive. Well, why can’t I be? She said, because I’m B positive and black people and white people don’t have the same type of blood.

Now, is she a flawed human? I’m Absolutely not. She herself is the victim of this narrative, this erroneous narrative that has impacted her belief. We talk about this work at the personal level. What do I know, think, believe. That impacts her. The work at the interpersonal level, how she interacted with me, how we have interacted with each other.

And then it impacts the systemic level, the institutional level, because it’s these people with false narratives, flawed narratives, establishing policies, setting up rules and laws that then impact and dare I say, damage all of us. And it is inherent in the culture. Of our nation in the culture of many organizations and institutions.

I can give this example that once upon a time in healthcare, when a physician came into the room, if the nurse was seated, she had to stand up. And I say she, because they were disproportionately women. That is how. All of these beliefs and values shape all of our lived experience, but we know that change happens.

We know the nurses don’t stand up when physicians walk in the room anymore because we had an epiphany and we are now in a stage of our history where we’re trying to push against narrative so that we can have the epiphany, change the policies, begin to see outcomes and negative health experience.

change for people.

Julie Holton: I love that, that mentioned, you know, in changing policies and, and in getting to that bigger picture, that wider scope, I’m curious your thoughts on this. So I was having a conversation with a really good friend of mine. He’s a business owner and, uh, he’s a Latino background. His, um, the, the mother of his child is a black woman.

And he described to me being in Atlanta when his daughter was born. And in the room, you know, in the, in the birthing room with his then wife and the amazing, wonderful experience that they had in this hospital. And he said, but Julie, I looked out the window and I could literally see the next hospital.

And I knew that if we had been at that hospital, we would have had a different experience because the wealth gap, the racial gap, the, the, all of these gaps, as he described. meant very, very different lived experiences in health care is, has this been your experience? I mean, tell us about some of these, some of these disparities that, that are happening within the health care system.

Dr. Renee Canady: Yeah. Although we like to describe ourselves as a colorblind society, um, which could be. No farther from wrong and no farther from desirable. I want you to see who I am gender wise, ethnically wise, racially wise, because it brings a richness to our relationship. But we like to pretend like, nope, we’re just seeing everyone and we’re treating everyone the same and everyone has.

can have the same health experience. And if they don’t, they probably just didn’t do what the doctor told them to do in public health. We describe our mission as assuring the conditions needed for good health. So you can have two people with the exact same diagnosis, with the exact same prognosis, the same care plan, and you send them out with the plan to get better.

And they have completely different outcomes because the homes to which they go are different. The communities in which they live are different. Their accessibility to the healthy fruits and vegetables that you’re telling them as a provider to take advantage of. And so even walking in a neighborhood, gun violence is a focus of the Michigan Public Health Institute right now, because I could be saying, yeah, go out, walk, take a walk around the block.

Well, that’s not safe for many in their neighborhoods. And so this disparity of choice and context, as well as the way people are treated. Interpersonally within systems we know is the source of disparities. Disparities are the result of inequities in systems. What can we,

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: what can we do? I realize that’s a very large question, so let’s find a bite sized piece that we can dig into.

What is one step that people. Of color that people in the medical field, what is one bite that we can take and say here, let’s start here.

Dr. Renee Canady: Well, I would offer that the first step is what the two of you are doing now. You are beginning a dialogue. I’m not saying a conversation like you’ll hear people say, I’m so tired of talking about this.

And I will say. Super. Let’s stop talking about it. And let’s have a targeted dialogue that’s going to construct some solutions. The solutions are going to come from us. They’re going to come from our shared commitment that this is not acceptable. Margaret Whitehead further describes disparities as inequities as unfair and unjust, so they’re systemic and their pattern, but she also invited values to the table.

And that’s where we’ve got to be. We have this, again, myth of our personal self and our professional self and we separate the two. No, you are who you are as you’re doing the things that you’re paid to do. And those passions. Uh, that you have when you think about why are these babies dying at higher rates than others?

Why is this mom? Can you believe that childbirth is a threat to the very life of a mother, particularly a mother who is under resourced or a mother who is Black and in Michigan where I live, Native American? We see exorbitant rates, not because of her. Fault, but because of the system and the patterns. And so I talk a lot of actually in my book about this idea of productive outrage.

And so when you say, what is one thing we can do, I want us to allow outrage to drive productive solutions. I’m not suggesting we get outraged and we go tear up things and, you know, Have a, I mean, all due respect to our history of rioting in this country, but you can be angry and use that to drive and motivate solutions.

And they’re not solutions that Renee is going to come up on her own. It’s not a solution that Risha or that Julia, we, it’s in, Relationship. So how do we set a table where we can just belly up to it and say, all right, we can fix this. And we know we can fix it because we’ve seen solutions happen. Well, it also

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: flows into that starting with the, I’m sorry, Jules, and let me get this real quick, uh, with, with admission, right?

It’s, it’s let us admit that. This exists and stop trying to, you know, we’re not trying to say you did this to us. It’s no, this happened. We need to address it. We need to admit that it happened. And then we need to say, how do we make sure it doesn’t happen again? How do we, how do we then say, we can’t fix that thing in the past, but we can damn sure fix it from and make sure it doesn’t move forward ever again.

So I guess when you belly up to the table. But once again, we get back into facts versus fiction versus alternative facts. If we can all sit at the table and drop facts and agree, these are facts. This is real now. Now that we can agree to this actually happened, this thing is real. What was innately wrong beyond racism?

Was there ever an effort to try to do something or was there a laziness here? Where do we go from here? How do we say, okay, that was ugly. What’s our step forward? I don’t know. Maybe it sounds too simple for me.

Julie Holton: Well, and I really love this idea of room at the table. I mean, that really, to me, just the headline alone, puts the responsibility on everyone.

There is room at the table. For and we need everyone. We need the right leaders at the table. And Dr. Kennedy, you talk a lot about health leadership. You introduced this concept that at the surface, I think sound and we hear leadership all the time. And, you know, I think most of us know the qualities that make a good leader.

But when you’re talking about health leadership in particular, what are some of these concepts through your work that, um, That you see are needed in this space. What does health leadership mean?

Dr. Renee Canady: I think leadership. I agree, Julie. Leadership is leadership. Um, and leaders who happen to find their space and place, uh, in a sphere of influence that’s going to shape health, particularly now are needed more than ever.

We’re at this really interesting nexus where If we continue to do things the same, we’ll continue to see negative outcomes. We’ve kind of gotten at a place where, well, good enough is good enough. You know, I think socially, sometimes people feel like, well, we all go to the same restaurants now and there’s not whites and colored signs.

So we, you know, we’ve arrived. Well, we’ve made progress. But we’ve not arrived and good enough is absolutely not good enough. So what is our responsibility? Right. We are not, um, maybe being hosed, uh, you know, with the fire hoses and attacked by police dogs and the risk of lynching prayerfully is diminished, but we’ve not done the work our, um, ancestors and, and our, and, and I want you to say our ancestors, our grandparents.

Who we know knew and love got us to a certain point and then we sat down. And so for me, leadership is about recognizing that change is needed. Change can happen and it’ll only happen if you and I take the initiative, but it’s scary, like nobody wants to be called a racist. Nobody wants to be called homophobic and you know, none of these derogatory terms and so we have found ourselves just sitting quietly and doing nothing, but being willing to do it afraid to take the risk to be the person to say, excuse me, but.

Have we thought about, um, and much of that I would submit comes again across relationship. I describe myself as a relationship driven leader. I battle racism because it damages relationships and we need relationships to assure conditions to make sure everyone’s health is as good and as strong as it can be.

And it is relationship across difference. I need to have people at the table that have different lived experiences, different worldviews, different priorities, because that’s when we innovate and create something that’s new. Doing more of the same just gets us more of the same. What is it that

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: they say?

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is called insanity.

Dr. Renee Canady: So if you have four heads against

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: the wall, it’s like you keep banging your head up against the wall, the wall isn’t going to necessarily break, but at some point you might get knocked out. Yeah. The amount of patience that is required in dealing with something of this level, because You even reach back to Dr.

King to Malcolm X and one of the biggest issues was that the slowness to which Change happens. And what is it? The dr. King said the arc of justice is not it’s not a straight line so when you’re looking at something like this and it’s 2024 and we’re still dealing with some of the same and in some cases it feels You Like we are literally going backwards, especially when we’re talking about women’s health.

How much patience can you have? Or how do you, you know, it’s like, yeah, I want to sit up at the table, but. That outrage that I don’t, I do want to go break something. I want to go break Congress.

Dr. Renee Canady: Um,

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: so what, what now, what is that next thing? How do you, how do you hold your own mind together and realize, okay, we’re sitting 50 years ago again for some strange reason, and it’s 2024, but we still are trying to make progress.

I, I, I, I guess my, my question’s a little convoluted. Um, and just how much patience do you have to have, uh, with this for yourself for this fight that just seems like it’s getting tougher and it shouldn’t be at this point. And how do

Dr. Renee Canady: you renew

Julie Holton: that patience when you’re tired? Cause you must get tired. I get tired.

I’m tired for you.

Dr. Renee Canady: Well, I mean, it is a teamwork. It is a think tank of three plus right so that on the day where I’m like, I just can’t, I just can’t, or you know something happened that pinged me very personally and very intimately. For example, the maternal child health work. This last summer when everyone was talking about RSV.

I hate to use the word triggering because I’m not a psychologist, but it was very, um, I was very reactive to it because my son, who in 1989, when we had the tragic experience of contributing to the infant mortality, uh, statistics, my son, who was delivered at 28 weeks was doing well. But when we hit the Winter time in 1989, in December, he caught RSV and his little preemie lungs just couldn’t handle it.

So how can I take. That lived experience to honor this beautiful son that lived with us for six months to say, I’m going to drive change. I am impatient about it and I encourage people to use that impatient. Yeah, I’m, I’m a bit of an incrementalist, um, in philosophy. I think, uh, small bites are lasting, but as of late that impatience has kicked in and I’m a bit more now of a rapid incrementalist.

And if you just envision baby steps, I don’t know if you have toddlers in your lives, but try chasing the toddler when they are trying to get away from you. We can accomplish things really quickly with small bites that are going to be consistent and are going to be staying. I’ll just give you an example in Michigan.

Um, when COVID was In the throes, our governor established a coronavirus, um, task force, but the task force was focused on racial disparities. So it was the coronavirus racial disparities task force. And we were very focused on this disproportionate curve where blacks were way more, um, experiencing the negative consequences.

And how could we, our language was flatten the curve. Well, in Michigan. We actually did flatten the racial disparity curve during COVID. And it was because we got in community and we talked to folk, you know, we oftentimes with all our experience and education and degrees and positions, we’ll say, Oh, we know what’s best.

We think we should do this, but instead we entered this space with a deep humility to say, how can we leverage, how would you like us? Community to leverage our resources and our knowledge. Um, and they said, well, first of all, I don’t have a car. Can you bring the clinic to us? And we stood up a mobile clinic that was driving around, talking to people, providing education, providing resources.

People were telling us we’re hungry. We set up accessible spaces where people could access food and well being because when you tell people to quarantine. Quarantining looks very different if you’re living in a wealthy suburb with seven rooms and five bathrooms than when you’re a multi generational family living in a two bedroom house.

We said these things and just assumed people could do it. So in our work, um, against the coronavirus, we didn’t just make assumptions. Um, and so we know that change can happen because as I said, the curve flattened, but what it took to get there, we have to continue. There’s a level of vigilance. This is not in healthcare.

It’s not check, check, check. The box work if we don’t continue to say no pain scales are not racially determined. So you shouldn’t under medicate a child with a compound fracture because they happen to be black. They are hurting as much as the white child with a compound fracture. It’s disengaging amongst All of the myths that we have floated out as facts.

We know that it can happen. We know that we can do it. It’s a matter of our holding ourselves accountable in spaces like this. So we talk at MPH. I. About facilitated dialogue as a methodology, because sometimes we get at the table and we just were like, what are we talking about? And I don’t know. And how do you do a dialogue?

Well, there is a methodology, there are actions, there are steps to get to a place of solution. And so yes, talking is doing dialogue is action.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: Isn’t that amazing what happens when you listen to

Dr. Renee Canady: someone. Yeah.

Julie Holton: And as you said, that dialogue that’s targeted. You know, we’re not just out there talking. A lot of people are on social media just talking, but it’s not targeted and it’s not actionable.

And you mentioned MPHI. So I want to make sure that we mentioned for our audience, the Michigan Public Health Institute, Michigan based, and the work that you’re doing. How can people learn about MHPI and MPHI? Did I say that right? Michigan Public Health Institute. How can people learn about the work you’re doing and even get involved if they’re in

Dr. Renee Canady: Michigan?

Yeah, certainly. We, we are Michigan based, but we’re nationally engaged. We’re one of almost 50 public health institutes. across the country. And so public health institutes are sort of this intermediate partner between sort of academic public health, governmental public health, community based public health, where we bring some, some backbone and some capacity, um, to spaces where people, like in governmental public health, Are just swamped and they just need somebody on the bench to help them get this done or in communities that simply may not have the knowledge or the ability we can bring that in.

And so I’m really, really honored as someone who’s been a career public health professional having worked in academics. Having worked in state and local, uh, county governments, having worked in community, Michigan Public Health Institute is a nice integration of all of those things for me. And so recognizing that this, uh, the solution doesn’t sit in any one sector.

And I would offer, I know there’s a quote that says when you’re a hammer, Everything looks like a nail. Well, when you’re a public health professional, everything looks like public health. If it is education, education is deeply correlated to well being and health. Violence, deeply. Employment, deeply. All of the things that we talk about, it’s not about, um, it is about our well being.

Um, and what does it mean to live well, and certainly our physical, our emotional, our mental health is a deep part of that, and it requires all of those sectors to set that as a priority.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: It’s a web. It’s an intertwined web with so many pieces and people want to make, they want to have a simple answer and that doesn’t exist because we’re talking about human beings and we’re talking about individuals that all feel, experience, whatever, things differently.

But if you want to have a simple answer, then your first simple answer is recognize that everybody is human. Let’s start there and recognize that everybody’s different and that that’s fine. That’s going back to what you said before. I always found, I always, the, the, the, the term of, we want to be colorblind when you had mentioned that before.

I remember saying,

Dr. Renee Canady: no, I don’t want

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: to be colorblind. I love that.

Dr. Renee Canady: I’m black. I said,

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: but I do want to be, I, I love what makes me different. I look at my beautiful Julie and, and her. Little face. And I want to reach through the screen every day and hug her. I love the differences between the two of us. It’s what makes us, us.

She’s her, I am me and that’s perfectly fine. She’s white and I’m black and that’s great. I don’t. But let’s, so let’s acknowledge, let’s start there and then you, then you can start weaving into everything else. But going back to what you, Dr. Kennedy, and even Julie, what you said at the, at the church, when you engage and listen versus I’m going to tell you what you need to know and what you need to hear, as opposed to, you know what, you need to tell me what you’re experiencing, what’s going on and what.

You need to make it better and we start there and I think that we, I’m ready

Dr. Renee Canady: for some big bites. Well, can, can I just grab on to that bite of difference because, you know, we’ve gone through different stages where we have mantras like, Oh, value diversity, uh, but diversity simply means different. And all too often difference comes for us with discomfort because we’re not used to difference, but the more you’re exposed to difference, the more you appreciate it and you value it.

So. Difference is good. Another difference kind of gets in the way of progress in this space is we bought into the mantra that fairness means sameness. And so if you’re not treating everyone the same, you’ll hear this often in medical, um, clinical spaces. Oh, I treat all my patients the same. And I want to say shame on you because all of your patients are not.

They’re different. And so we have to give ourselves permission to treat each other differently, not because and some of it, I think it comes from the, you know, treat everyone the same, but no, that is flawed. It’s absolutely flawed.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: It’s again, looking for that simple answer for something that is, that is more complex.

Yes. Treat everybody, treat everybody the same with regards to respect. Yeah. Respective person. Yeah. Respective of, of, of hearing, but their ailment, their issue, what they are dealing with, their familial history is different from Suzy Wu’s familial history. And you can’t treat them both the same when they are coming from different backgrounds and different, um, situations.

So I, I agree. We could go on and on. I mean, good grief. We could, you started on the other. I’m like seeing all these other little branches of, of conversation where this goes. So we definitely want to talk to you again in the future. But, um, before we, we wrap this up, uh, we absolutely have our, our rapid fire questions for you.

And, um, this is just. Simple, right off the top of your head questions, nothing too scary, nothing too hard, but I’m just, just right to the point. Are you ready?

Dr. Renee Canady: Yes. Ready. All

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: right. Question number one, what would you give to an aspiring? What advice would you give to an aspiring young

Dr. Renee Canady: leader? I would say the lift is heavy, but the lift is worth it.

Julie Holton: Is there a quote, you’ve shared a few quotes, is there, is there one quote, a book, a resource maybe that you can point to that has had an impact on your journey?

Dr. Renee Canady: So many, I absolutely love quotes. Um, my favorite quote comes from someone I consider a mentor, Dr. Ron David, who is a physician and a theologian. And he says, relationships are primary, all else is derivative. Nice. Nice.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: What would you tell your younger self if they were willing to listen?

Dr. Renee Canady: I would tell my younger self, take more risk and take them sooner.

I see too many experienced leaders. Who don’t want to take risks. As a matter of fact, that’s what’s one of the motivations for writing my book. I just got tired of seeing leaders with amazing platforms that were just sitting on their hands. And well, I mean, I don’t want to cause any please cause it. So I would tell younger Renee.

Take more risks and take them sooner. Good trouble.

Julie Holton: I will add to that, Dr. Kennedy, because I think that is so beautiful. And I just, you know, as, as, as the white woman in the trio today, I just want to share a message from the heart with other white folks who are listening to this. The conversation is difficult.

It can be uncomfortable. I can tell you when I was that, that younger version of me standing in that black church, and I felt that all the focus on me and saying, well, why should we listen to you in that moment? I did not want to be there that I did not know how to answer. I did not. It was so far out of my comfort zone, but I’m also so much better for standing there and listening.

And thank God I said the right, the right words that, you know, thank goodness I listened. And, and so my, my message is the conversations are uncomfortable. So go into them and listen, just show up, just pull a chair and sit at the table. And be a part of the change because we know change is needed. And if we don’t sit through the discomfort, if we don’t hear what’s actually happening, if we don’t face this, then we can’t be a part of fixing it.

And so I, I just, I share that hopefully, you know, for whatever it’s worth, I am by no means, I, you know, reach, you know, this, there are so many times that I miss And I think later, like, oh my gosh, people are going to think I’m just this awful person because I said the wrong thing. And I didn’t even know I was saying the wrong thing, but you know what?

If, if all we do is we show up as the best version of ourself with the best of intentions, that’s it. That’s all we have to do. That is the first step. Start showing up, start listening, start engaging in these conversations.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: We’ve said it time and time again. Yes. Like you said, I’m just going to reiterate what you just said.

Yeah. The conversation might be difficult. It’s supposed to be, it’s supposed to be difficult. If it’s an easy conversation, then you’re probably not actually having the conversation. So have that difficult conversation here. Don’t just wait. Don’t sit there and say, well, I feel like I’m being attacked. It’s not about being attacked.

It’s about hearing, hearing what’s going on and then digesting it. and then saying, okay, okay, I hear you now. And then once you hear it and then understand and try to understand, then we can make positive change because now you’re no longer in defense mode. Now you’re in fixed mode because you heard it.

It makes sense now. I didn’t think of it that way. I understand it now. Okay. Now I need, what steps can I do to get into fixed mode? And that’s when that real change happens. So go have the difficult conversation. And the magic

Dr. Renee Canady: ingredient I think is grace. We just have to give each other grace and it gets easier, it gets more comfortable.

It’s a little bit like jumping into the pool, you know, you put your toe in and it’s freezing cold and you know, by the time you’re all in the pool, you don’t remember that it was ever felt cold. So it’s a little bit, just give each other some grace.

Reischea Canidate-Kapasouris: Oh, it’s been wonderful having you on the show. Thank you so much, Dr.

Kennedy. And that’s going to do it for this episode of think tank of three.