The Quality Of Health Care You Receive Likely Depends On Your Skin Color ~ Erin Schumake

Unequal health care continues to be a serious problem for black Americans.

More than a decade after the Institute of Medicine issued a landmark report showing that minority patients were less likely to receive the same quality health care as white patients, racial and ethnic disparities continue to plague the U.S. health care system. That report, which was published in 2002, indicated that even when both groups had similar insurance or the same ability to pay for care, black patients received inferior treatment to white patients.

This still hold true, according to our investigation into dozens of studies about black health across multiple disciplines. More than any other single group, the black community is most likely to have negative health outcomes, including higher rates of breast and prostate cancer, high incidence of HIV/AIDS, higher rates of infant morality — along with high rates of childhood obesity and asthma in young adults. 

According to Karen M. Winkfield, a radiation oncologist and assistant professor in the department of radiation oncology at Harvard Medical School, racial disparities in health care and health outcomes exist across almost every single disease or condition. 

“In terms of the disparities, it’s universal,” she said. “There are disparities across almost every single disease entity.”


Behind The Numbers

Socioeconomic inequality accounts for much of the difference. Twenty-seven percent of people living in poverty are black, and studies consistently show that the least educated and lowest income peopleare the most likely to be unhealthy. 

“Financial status directly impacts health status,” Winkfield said. “They are inseparable. That’s the problem in this country — people make the assumption that people can just do. Well, you can’t. If you don’t have the resources, you’re not going to be able to care for your health in the appropriate way.” 

This is a Catch-22: People need education and information in order to make these good personal health decisions, two resources that economically disadvantaged individuals are less likely to have. Education is also a factor in making health changes on a community level. It takes education and political connections to effectively lobby local grocery stores to carry fresh fruits and vegetables, or fight to prohibit corner stores from selling tobacco to neighborhood youth. 

But inequality alone doesn’t account for the difference. Policy can address differences in access and income, but research finds that unconscious racism is far more insidious and harder to legislate against. Fully two-thirds of medical professionals display unconscious racial bias. And research has also shown that racial bias can lead to reduced trust between patients and their doctors, and causes black patients feel less respected by their doctors. 

“Layered on top of those social class inequities are racial inequities,” said Dr. M. Norman Oliver, director of the University of Virginia Center on Health Disparities. “While a poor, working-class white or a poor Appalachian white might have the same poor health standards as folks in inner-city Baltimore, the population attributable risk of being in that poor status is much higher in the African-American community. That’s a result of that racist discrimination being layered on top of the class inequities that we have.” 

Closing the gap

Though the numbers are grim, there are efforts to close these gaps. One initiative outlined in a 2014 New England Journal of Medicine study proved that requiring hospitals to report quality of care reduced racial disparities in health outcomes between 2005 and 2010 in 17 categories, including heart attacks, heart failures and pneumonia. And the Affordable Care Act has started to narrow the health insurance disparity, with the number of uninsured blacks expected to drop from 20 percent to 11 percent by 2016. 
These improvements, however, have limits. For individuals who didn’t benefit from the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid, and had to buy health insurance through the health care exchanges, there may be no increase in health care access at all, said Oliver. “It’s a little problematic in that most folks can’t afford anything other than the high-deductible plans,” he said. “Even though they have insurance, it doesn’t necessarily increase their access, because they can’t pay for things out of pocket.”

One way to combat discrepancies is to clearly identify them. In that spirit, we picked five disease areas representing both chronic and infectious conditions — childhood obesity, infant mortality, childhood asthma, breast cancer and HIV infections — to illuminate how much worse outcomes are for African-Americans in nearly every category of health:

Black Women Are More Likely To Die Of Breast Cancer

The research: As The Huffington Post reported in October, despite advances in medicine over the past three decades, breast cancer survival among black women has not improved at the same rate as it has among white women. Today, black women have a 79 percent five-year survival rate, while white women have a 92 percent five-year survival rate. These numbers are particularly striking because white women have higher rates of breast cancer to begin with. 

Why is this happening? Socioeconomic factors including income, education, and occupation can mean fewer resources, less access to quality health care and worse health outcomes. In addition, life-saving clinical trials may be financially impossible for working-class women who can’t afford to miss a shift. As it stands, only five percent of clinical trial participants are black. “The advancements in screening tools and treatment which occurred in the 1990s were largely available to white women, while black women, who were more likely to be uninsured, did not gain equal access to these life-saving technologies,” Bijou Hunt, an epidemiologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago, told Reuters last year.

HIV Diagnoses Are Nine Times Higher In the Black Community


The research: Of the 46,381 people who received an HIV-positive diagnosis in 2010, approximately half were African-American or Hispanic. People of color were nine times more likely to be diagnosed with HIV than white individuals, and black women were 20 times more likely to be diagnosed with HIV than white women.

Why is this happening? Poverty underscores HIV transmissions, since limited access to health care can mean individuals are less likely to be educated about or practice safe sex, less likely to get tested for HIV, and may have less access to antiretroviral therapies than their higher-income counterparts. In addition, the disproportionally high incarceration rate among black men poses an infection risk for the black community. One in seven people with HIV has passed through a correctional facility, where recent reports show that rape and sex between inmates is commonplace.

Real and perceived stigma and discrimination against HIV-positive people of color decreases both the likelihood that individuals will seek treatment and the likelihood that HIV-positive people will be honest with their potential sexual partners about their diagnosis.

The Infant Mortality Rate Is Twice As High For Black Children


The research: Black children are two times more likely to die during their first year of life than white children. In Washington D.C., which, like many other big cities, has a high percentage of African-American and low-income residents, black infants are almost four times more likely to die before their first birthday.

Why is this happening? Devastatingly high infant mortality rates among people of color make it especially clear that not all groups have benefited equally from 20th-century medical advances. Factors such as poor maternal health, inadequate prenatal care, smoking during pregnancy, lack of education, infection, stress and racism may all contribute to infant mortality. 

“We know that one of the leading causes of infant mortality among African-Americans is preterm birth,” Michael Lu, an obstetrician-gynecologist and professor at the University of California at Los Angeles told McClatchy DC in 2007 when studies suggested stress may play a role in the long-stubborn mortality discrepancy. “We know that stress is an important risk factor, and it initiates the release of stress hormones leading to preterm birth and increase susceptibility for infection. The question is, do we think racial discrimination and racism is stressful?”

The answer to Lu’s question is “yes.” While existing peer-reviewed research on the psychological effects of racism on people of color is limited, psychologist Monnica Williams, a professor and director of the University of Louisville’s Center for Mental Health Disparities, believes there is a link between racism and post-traumatic stress disorder. “It’s a natural byproduct of the types of experiences that minorities have to deal with on a regular basis,” she said in a New York Times interview in June. “My training and study has been on post-traumatic stress disorder for a long time, and the two look very much alike.”

Black Children Are More Likely To Be Obese


The research: Compared to white children, black children and adolescents are more likely to suffer from obesity, defined as having body-mass indices greater than 30. This is especially troubling because of the myriad long-term health problems associated with obesity, including coronary heart disease, high-blood pressure, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and cancer. 

Why is this happening? Obesity is a tricky and somewhat circular issue. One possible contributing factor to childhood obesity among black children that they are less likely to be breastfed than white children. According to the World Health Organization, formula-fed infants tend to consume higher protein levels, which can lead to weight gain and obesity development later in life. Breast milk also contains important hormones that may contribute to healthy weight balance. Breastfeeding is not, however, always an issue of personal choice. That black women generally tend to make less money and be less well-educated are barriers “because you can’t access jobs where you might have a maternity leave, or can negotiate a private space to pump, or feel you are able to nurse at work,” Monique Sims-Harper, director of A More Excellent Way Health Improvement Organization and a spokeswoman for the California Breastfeeding Coalition, told the BBC.

Additional factors that can trigger obesity include the lack of access to health foods in low-income communities, limited opportunities for physical activity (people living in high-crime communities may be less likely to let their kids play outside, for example), and a lack of education about nutrition. Bringing the issue full circle, a higher weight is associated with lower earned income, at least among women. 

Black Children Are More Likely To Have Asthma 


The research: Black and Puerto Rican children are more likely to have asthma than any other groups. Moreover, black individuals of any age are three times more likely than white individuals to die from asthma.

Why is this happening? Living in poor-quality low-income housing, which could include lead paint and mold, is a likely asthma trigger, a condition that is not limited to city dwellers. African-American children living in Inner-city and rural low-income areas were found to have equally high asthma levels in a recent study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

While there may be a genetic component to asthma, poverty seems to be the overwhelming risk factor. As of 2013, almost a third of peopleliving at the poverty level were black. Poverty can also contribute to other health behaviors that can cause or worsen asthma. According to NPR, “Second-hand smoke is also a risk for children, and poor people tend to smoke more. And people in poverty, no matter where they live, also experience day-to-day stress.”

What Does ‘Black-On-Black Crime’ Have to Do With Ferguson? ~ Julia Craven


The answer to the question posed in this post’s title is nothing. Absolutely nothing. Not one thing. Nada. Zip. Zero.

The “Black-on-Black crime” moniker is racist rhetoric functioning under the guise of concern for the state of Black America. People of all races — Blacks included — seemingly love to discuss how not killing our own and being more respectable will alleviate the effects of racism.

It’s dangerous, however, to tell Black people to dress better, work harder or be respectable because it diverts attention from the gaze of the oppressor to the behavior of the disenfranchised. It showcases how deep anti-blackness runs within our society. This highly misinformed line of thinking negates the complex historical implications surrounding a white cop killing an unarmed Black teenager.

Authority has a long history of not respecting Black people so why some folks think becoming more respectable will solve anything is confusing. Our respect means nothing to those who see no value in Black life. They don’t care for or want our respect — they want our compliance. They want our submission.

“Black-on-Black crime” highlights the fear surrounding Black masculinity, the lack of Black femininity, and perceived inherent Black criminality. And, when Black people are shamed for committing the same crimes at almost the same rates as whites, it illustrates how much the white supremacist gaze has been internalized.

The term, which originated in the 1980s, cites Black people as a problem as opposed to poverty, poor educational opportunities, proximity and other factors that lead to increased crime rates within all communities — regardless of color.

Research conducted by David Wilson explains how the media picked up on a new wave of violence within Black communities — which was undoubtedly fueled by job loss, debased identity and “rampant physical decay”– and constructed the misperception that intraracial crime was a malady only plaguing Black America.

But racial exclusivity is apparent in the majority of violent crimes. Around 91 percent of Black victims are murdered by Black offenders while 83 percent of white victims are killed by another white person, based on the most recent FBI homicide statistics.

The “Black-on-Black” crime argument alludes that there’s nothing normal about Black intraracial crime. “White-on-white” violence is simply called crime. Why is Black intraracial violence depicted as some rare Pokémon in crime discussions when it is only slightly more prevalent?

Flawed white perception is not assuaged is these talks — Black behavior is, instead, attacked. This places Black folk in a “Catch 22.” No matter how “respectable” we are or become, as long as our skin is Black we will never amount to white standards though we are expected to be a reflection of them.

Respectability will never be a solution because the issue isn’t us; it’s how white America views blackness. 

Mike Brown’s death, and the subsequent lack of justice, isn’t about the myth of “Black-on-Black crime.” It’s about how Blacks are disproportionately, and often unjustly, targeted by law enforcement. It’s about how systemic racism frames the way in which Black people, especially men, are viewed. It’s about how Black corpses are criminalized and put on trial but their white killers often go unindicted.

The circumstances surrounding Mike Brown’s death represent a much larger racially oppressive government and police structure that excuses white killers but refuses to humanize black victims due to the inherent guilt attributed to black people and blackness.

And when you tell Black people to be more respectable and not kill one another, you’re identifying us as savage brutes who deserve to be gunned down due to this assumed lack of humanity.

The protests in Ferguson do not show the supposed intrinsic animalistic nature of Black people. They showcase a community — and reflect a nation of people — tired of constantly being at the mercy of a justice system that sees no value in their livelihood.

Ferguson is illustrating what happens when people are fed up with being targeted. Ferguson is spearheading a movement. Stop detracting from that with baseless “Black-on-Black crime” discussions.

One Phone Call Showed Me How People Dismiss Black Humanity When They Defend Police ~ Julia Craven

WASHINGTON — Interviewing a source can be an eye-opening and harrowing experience, especially when speaking to someone who has been victimized — or someone who feels her people have been wronged.

The Huffington Post published a story last week giving an account of the now-famous McKinney, Texas, pool party police debacle, based in part on an interview with one of the partygoers who had a gun pulled on him. But the real shock came when a resident who wasn’t even at the party emailed me to say that I had it all wrong.

“The story you just posted where you interviewed [the partygoer] is ridiculously inaccurate. I live in the community and know people that witnessed the incident first hand. I am also on a neighborhood Facebook group and was getting information before anything even escalated,” the woman, who called herself Jen, said. “If you’d like to talk to one of the adults in the video who was a first hand witness to the whole situation, and not responsible for trespassing, I can put you in contact.”

Jen rescinded the offer when asked about contact info for two women who can be seen attacking 19-year-old Tatiana Rhodes in a video. McKinney police were called sometime after the altercation. Rhodes, one of the party hosts, said the women were hurling racial slurs at the black teens — Rhodes herself was allegedly called a “black fucker” — and telling them to go back to their “Section 8 homes.” 

Instead, Jen replied with a lengthy screed that gave insight into how some people can defend McKinney police officer Eric Casebolt’s handling of the situation. Her email hinted at the deep-seated mindset among white Americans who dismiss black humanity in order to preserve an unwavering deference to authority — so I called her.

As the phone rang, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from our conversation. But our chat turned out to be meaningful and worth dissecting. It illustrated how white fear and misperceptions can be used to justify actions that traumatize or sometimes even end black lives. It showed the troubling ease with which some people can explain away this trauma as an inevitable — and, worse, acceptable — outcome of black behavior. 

Before ending our chat, Jen, whose last name I’m withholding, told me she didn’t want to be quoted — and I let her know that requests to talk off the record need to be made prior to an interview with a reporter, not after.

She required him to use force. Had he grabbed her arm and had she followed him willfully, it wouldn’t have looked the way it looked. But she required the force.

Jen’s take on the majority of the day’s events differ from testimonies given by teenswho were actually at the party, though everyone agrees the chaos began with an end-of-the-school-year cookout. Jen said that teens were trading off a key to get into a pool area and that when the security guard started denying them access, the situation began to escalate. She accused the teens of rebelling — she said they started “taking over,” “jumping the fence” and “being aggressively sexually active.” 

Her analysis of what happened says something about why this incident sparked a national conversation that has further exposed racial divides. Jen didn’t see this as an incident involving implicit racial biases. (Based on her Gmail account photo, I guessed that she is white, and I also assumed she knew I’m black based on my Gmail account photo.) She refused to consider Casebolt’s actions — particularly his treatment of 15-year-old Dajerria Becton — as part of a widespread practice of police brutalizing black people. She didn’t seem to see any problem with the way he acted. 

The emphasis in the following block quotes was added by HuffPost.

So basically once the cops were called, nobody would leave. Nobody would listen to authority. Nobody was doing what they were supposed to be doing. … The cop? Was he out of line? That’s for the police department to decide. It sure seems like he was kind of a loose cannon. But at the same time, when it came down to arresting this girl, he asked her multiple times, “Get away, get away, get away, get away.” She kept coming back. She kept coming back, yelling racial slurs. Finally, he had enough with her. And here’s the deal, if you’re trying to maintain control in like a mob-like situation — because that’s what it felt like. It felt like a mob. I had moms posting on Facebook “What’s going on,” leaving the pool because they didn’t feel safe. And not because the kids were black. It had nothing to do with that. It had to do with the energy of the situation. 

While Jen tried to discount the role that race played in her description, the racial undertones can’t be ignored. Black people are regularly associated with “mobs.” It’s a common media theme — whether we’re protesting or just turning up at a party — primarily because blackness is associated with unruliness, violence and trouble. A group of black folks, or even rowdy kids, can’t just be hanging out. We have to be doing, ya know, “mob” stuff. Or, as Jen put it, displaying a “blatant” disregard for authority and order — pretty much asking to be kept in check. 

As Casebolt ordered the black kids to the ground, white teens were walking around freely, including 15-year-old Brandon Brooks, who filmed the incident. Brandon offered a poignant perspective to BuzzFeed:

“Everyone who was getting put on the ground was black, Mexican, Arabic,” he said. “[The cop] didn’t even look at me. It was kind of like I was invisible.”

In her remarks to me, Jen disregarded this aspect of the situation and, instead, placed most of the onus for what went wrong on those kids. I wish I could say I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. 

And I don’t know if that’s how they’re raised. I don’t know if there’s maybe — it was just a general sense of entitlement that they didn’t have to follow the rules.


Jen sounded so caught up in the vision of black rambunctiousness that the age of these kids — some as young as 14 — didn’t seem to matter. And perhaps it didn’t. Black children, especially boys, are often seen as older and less innocent than their white peers. 

Jen also sounded relieved to get her sentiments off her chest. I’m not sure if she was just frustrated that the prevailing narrative was different than the one she believed or if she had been harboring these thoughts for too long. But something was coloring her perspective:

As far as the little girl goes, that was brutally taken down, it appeared that way. It absolutely appeared that way. See, that’s exactly what she wanted you to think. She was running her mouth, running her mouth. It’s cancerous in a situation like that. In like a mob mentality like that, people like her are cancer. And it spreads. So all of a sudden she gets control, guess what’s gonna happen. Everybody else is, “Oh, well, she gets to do this, she gets to do this.” And it spreads. The officer, I believe — and this is just my opinion, I cannot speak to what he was thinking — I feel like she was threatening the situation. He asked several times; still she wouldn’t leave. [He asked her] several times; still she wouldn’t leave. She kept running her mouth … like she was calling him racial slurs. It was just ugly and nasty. So finally, he decided to detain her.

At that point, you’re detained, sweetie. You have to follow the rules. Whether or not you think you should be detained or not, he’s made that choice because that’s what he feels he needs to do to maintain control. What did she do? She slithered up. Yeah, she pulled. She’s fighting him. She required him to use force. Had he grabbed her arm and had she followed him willfully, it wouldn’t have looked the way it looked.


I thanked Jen for sharing her perspective. Then I asked if she felt as though Casebolt could have handled the situation better — especially considering how small Dajerria is — but she still couldn’t bring herself to place any blame on the officer. She repeatedly said she didn’t know how cops are trained and emphasized what the teenage girl could have done better, saying she “was absolutely out of control.” Jen was firm in her stance that when an officer “arrives to do his job, you do what he tells you to do.” 

White Americans as a whole tend to trust their local police more than black Americans do — 67 percent compared to 36 percent, according to a recent HuffPost/YouGov survey. Jen did admit that Casebolt’s handling of the situation didn’t look good a few times during our conversation. She also continuously pulled away from that observation and returned to the idea that the true culprits were the black kids — and that Casebolt was only responding appropriately to their threats:

She absolutely was breaking the law. By simply resisting what he was telling her to do, that’s breaking the law. And when you’re a criminal, you get treated like a criminal. Do I think he could have handled it better? I really don’t know. I don’t know what his training is. … Do I feel like she deserved to be taken down? Yes. In my opinion, she was obstructing justice. She absolutely deserved what she got. But what that looks like — I mean getting down to the details, do I think it could have been better? I honestly don’t know. It looks very cringy. … She’s not doing what she’s told. She’s absolutely interfering with [Casebolt’s efforts]. That’s a threat. And I know that they are trained to deal with those threats. Whether or not he did as he was trained, I don’t know. I don’t know what that looks like because I haven’t been trained. I don’t what that looks like. You want to look at it and say, “Oh, she should never be thrown to the ground.” But at the same time, what other choice did he have?


Casebolt could have acted like other officers on the scene, opting for a softer, more patient approach to the so-called mayhem. He didn’t have to yank Dajerria by her arm, push her head into the ground, pull her by her hair and complete his abuse with a knee in the back. He could have not let his emotions take over. He could have been a “guardian” instead of a “warrior.” This was a pool party. 

Essentially, Casebolt could have done his damn job. After I spoke with Jen, Casebolt resigned from the force following the McKinney Police Department’s decision to launch an investigation into his questionable conduct. 

Anyway, yeah, it looks brutal. It makes your gut reaction — your initial reaction is to just “Get off that baby girl.” That was my reaction, too. Hearing those wails, your momma bear instinct comes out. … And as far as drawing his gun, if you watch the video slow, and I think it’s at 3 minutes 13 seconds, you can see a kid coming up on his left with his hands near his pockets like he’s gonna pull something. Did the cop feel threatened that he felt like he needed to pull his gun? Maybe, I don’t know. Maybe not. Your gut reaction is to say, “Oh, you don’t pull a gun on teens.” But I don’t know. I have no idea.


I was shocked that she tried to justify Casebolt pulling his gun on two people at a pool party, but then it hit me: Jen is a victim of a larger systemic issue. Racism ruins everything it touches, even those privileged by the power dynamic. It probably hasn’t even crossed some folks’ minds that their views are hurtful and damaging.

This one woman’s comments on Dajerria and the other black kids struck a nerve with me. They reminded me of the first time I was called a “nigger” by a white guy who saw no value in me. They reminded me of when my great-grandmother explained to an 8-year-old me that I was black and that meant I was different. I couldn’t be a kid. I didn’t have any wiggle room to make average, youthful mistakes and grow from them, because blunders can get black people killed. Perceived defiance, like Dajerria’s, has been the catalyst for other controversial police shootings. Who’s to say things couldn’t have escalated this time? 

The reality is that black people are all too quickly seen as criminals, aren’t afforded the benefit of doubt and are held to incredibly high standards of personal responsibility that we’ll never attain because as long as our skin is black, we will never meet white standards. We’re expected to be a reflection of them, yet flawed white perception is never assuaged. Instead, black behavior is endlessly attacked.

It was a painful conversation. I took a break after getting off the phone with Jen because the rage that consumed me was too much. See, I encounter racism frequently, but Jen’s obliviousness to how her racially biased opinion would make me feel caught me off guard. It was almost like she expected me to understand where she was coming from — like this was how everyone, including black people, feels about black people. It was so nonchalant and normal for her.

Like I said, Jen is a victim. But what differentiates us is that she’s primarily a victim of her own ignorance. She can defeat her prejudice through education, greater awareness and stepping outside of her white comfort. Black people, on the other hand, can’t directly control or change the ignorance that fuels these systems of racial oppression. 

Dajerria, the other black teens at the party and black folks in general are in a Catch-22 — and I don’t know if there’s a way out.

Daily Meditation: A Sense Of Belonging ~ Antonia Blumberg

We all need help maintaining our personal spiritual practice. We hope that these Daily Meditations, prayers and mindful awareness exercises can be part of bringing spirituality alive in your life.

Today’s meditation features a reflection on “belonging and coming home” by philosopher and poet David Whyte. “We are the one part of creation that knows what it’s like to live in exile,” he says. Thus the ability to return home is one of the “great human endeavors.”



Good News Roundup – You’re Never Too Old For A Little Fun

Here’s a great way to end this Monday. A senior center in Germany kicked it up a notch by getting its members involved in classic Hollywood remakes. My favorite is Cabaret. Young at heart and never too old for fun. Enjoy!


A nursing home made a great gift for their staff and family members of its residents: a limited edition calendar featuring its residents dressed as actors in scenes from their favorite classic films, including TitanicRocky, James Bond, Blues BrothersMary Poppins, and more.

The participants from Essen, Germany’s Contilia Retirement Group—their ages range from 75 to 98(!)—spoke to Der Spiegel about the shoot, describing it as “tremendously fun” and “exciting.”

Nursing Home's Calendar Puts Residents in Classic Film Roles
Easy Rider
Nursing Home's Calendar Puts Residents in Classic Film Roles
7 Year Itch
Blues Brothers
Mary Poppins
Saturday Night Fever
James Bond
Breakfast at Tiffany’s


What Can We Do For You? Help Us Improve Minus The Box

On August 16th, we will be celebrating our 1 year anniversary and we would like to know what suggestions you have for improving the site. Please send us a quick note on what we can do to make Minus The Box a more enriching experience. Feel free to leave suggestions in the “Leave a Reply” section below or send us an email by using the form. All feedback is welcomed, encouraged, and greatly appreciated.

We are Wendy. Hear Us Roar. by Ren Martinez

I will keep this short and sweet. I’m a social activist that despairs of political alliances. I feel that politics is one of the worst things that can happen to a government. It’s so plainly seen in our current world, so deeply polarized in shades of black and white, like armies across a chessboard prepared to do battle. What checkmate will bring, I’m not entirely sure, but I am certain that’s not what democracy is about.

That being said, I want to celebrate Wendy Davis.

Wendy Davis, a woman that stood for nearly thirteen hours without leaning, sitting, or bathroom breaks. Outfitted in a smart suit and bright pink tennis shoes. A woman who spoke of women’s health and how the pursuit of happiness is nothing without the freedom of choice. A woman who was faced by the row of faces staring her down but did not waver in her stature nor falter in her words.

And, when she was shut down, the room stood up with her. Senator Leticia Van De Putte, after spending the day at her father’s funeral, took the podium and challenged those who would silence her. “At what point does a female senator need to raise her voice to be heard over the male colleagues in the room?” she demanded. The crowd raised their voices in unison until the clock struck past midnight.

My Facebook feed is a long sweep of celebration, people raising their glass to Wendy Davis (as well as cheering for the death of DOMA, but that’s another article for another day). I see fists in the air, smiling faces, people standing side by side (metaphorically speaking) and I have am proud and honored to stand alongside them.

This is what Wonder Woman must feel like every day.