ReRun: Our Life is But a Breath with Elder Angela Overton

July 15, 2023 Healwell
ReRun: Our Life is But a Breath with Elder Angela Overton
Show Notes Transcript

While we are working on Season 12, we're bringing you some of the Healwell Brain Trust's favorite episodes. Here's Service Director, Laura Bryant-Earner's pick: a conversation with Elder Angela Overton. (Originally aired February, 2021)

Elder Angela Overton experienced the value of interdisciplinary care as a teenager dealing with cancer. She joins the podcast today to dive deep into a discussion of equity, systemic change, and taking loving care of one another. Expect open hearts and honest talk about the barriers that prevent us from embracing each other in our full humanity.

About Our Guest:
Elder Angela Overton, MDiv., an effective communicator of what it means to receive and share Divine Holy Love. Angela is widely known for her practical and dynamic teaching style which helps people apply the timeless truths of sacred text to their everyday lives. She has been preaching, teaching and providing pastoral care for 25 years. Angela resides in Louisville, Kentucky where she has served as an associate minister at Green Castle Baptist Church for 9 years and at Burnett Avenue Baptist Church for 3 years. She is a former Contract Chaplain for Norton Healthcare filling in for Staff Chaplains; where she provided spiritual guidance, emotional support and direct care to patients, family members and staff.

Angela is the founder and director of her own 501c3 Care Well Ministry; where she works with Faith Leaders as they work in partnership to care well for those in their places of worship who are sick and shut-in. She is the Senior Advisor at the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care (C-TAC) in Washington, DC of the Interfaith Workgroup. Angela oversees faith and diversity leaders across the United States where they are functioning to improve advanced illness care in our health systems, the quality of care and determinants of goals of care for the person with advanced illness, and their caregivers b

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Cal Cates  0:10  

Hello, I'm Cal Cates.

Cathy Ryan  0:12  

And I am Cathy Ryan, a Healwell wannabe.

Cal Cates  0:17  

Hardly! You're all Healwell, all the time.

Cathy Ryan  0:19  

I try.

Cal Cates  0:21  

Welcome to another episode of Interdisciplinary. In this podcast, massage therapy educators, practitioners, and positive deviants Cathy Ryan and me, Cal Cates, will use research, science, experience, and humor to explore the broad landscape of healthcare through a truly interdisciplinary lens. We'll have honest, uncomfortable conversations about topics like access, racism, death, ageism, ableism, and equity. You'll always learn something, you'll always laugh, and you'll come away better informed and with some real things you can do in your own community and practice to create a more compassionate and collaborative system of care for all humans. Make sure you go out there and use all your social media might to like us and share us and tell the world that you listen to Interdisciplinary. Leave us a review, leave us some stars, wherever it is that you consume your podcasts. And we thank you for listening. Here we are, in the moment you've all been waiting for - this week's pun. I'm kind of branching out a little bit with, you know, we usually do the one liners but I want to say today that I just want to thank sidewalks, everywhere, for keeping me off the streets. So, Cathy, what is happening in British Columbia on this lovely day?

Cathy Ryan  1:37  

Oh, it's a beautiful snowy day here. COVID is a real thing. We're still navigating all of that. And, yeah, that's where we, that's where we are at.

Cal Cates  1:50  

Yeah, that's about where we are too, I think. Nothing particularly new in COVID although I am, we're having a lot more conversations here at Healwell about what to do about the vaccine distribution inequities, and what those of us who have already gotten them or, and really, we're all in positions to say something and do something about the lack of equity, but having some of those conversations in the Healwell online community and just really figuring out, you know, if you get offered the vaccine but you know there are people who should be getting offered the vaccine, does turning down the vaccine really do anything, or do you show up and kind of ask some questions? And so I think that's a topic that I think will be taking up soon about. It's going to continue, I think, and government agencies have said, oh, we want to really prioritize the communities that have been hit the hardest by COVID, which tend to be black and brown communities and then, when the rollout happens, that doesn't seem to be what actually happens. So I think we have a lot of work to do there. And, as you said, nothing new, unfortunately.

Cathy Ryan  2:56  

Well, and I know you and I have talked about this before, and as much as I'd like to say that Canada's different, sadly, in that regard, we are not.

Cal Cates  3:06  

Yeah, yeah, uphill. So we have with us Elder Angela Overton, who we're going to get downright informal with very soon, but we're really excited to have her with us today to share with us about her incredible experience in faith communities and in healthcare and how all those things overlap. So, without further ado, welcome to the show!

Angela Overton  3:34  

Thank you, Cal and Cathy, it is my absolute pleasure to be here.

Cal Cates  3:40  

Tell us what our listeners should know about all of the things that you have learned, that have brought you to this place in your career as a senior advisor at the Center to Transform Advanced Care and other really important work.

Angela Overton  3:56  

That how you embrace people matters. How you touch folks, whether it is emotionally, whether it is physically, whether it is clinically, whether it is spiritually - how we touch matters.

Cal Cates  4:19  

Yeah, and you've had personal experience with illness but also, certainly in your role, working with, as a clergy person, working with communities and dealing with illness, like tell us, tell us a little bit about your path to where you are now and how you have found yourself caring for people and and seeing what needs to be done out there.

Angela Overton  4:39  

So at a very young age, freshman in high school, I was diagnosed with a form of cancer. It was a rare form of cancer, Rhabdomyosarcoma. I was diagnosed in the late stages and when I asked the diagnosing physician, could I die? He said yes. And so as a freshman in high school, my life just turned upside down in a moment. I was raised in the church, a very strong African American church who believed in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and that spirit would aid and help in all situations. And what I found in my four-year battle with cancer is that, many times, faith leaders came to my bedside and interceded and prayed and it was encouraging, it was uplifting. The word that was professed through their mouths in the pulpit was helpful, it, like I said, it was spiritual, it was the rock, it was the foundation. But as time went on, there was no connectivity to resources, how do I practically, practically get through this moment. And so really, if I would say it, that, that, at that age, I begin to, in the pediatric oncology floor at Cleveland Clinic, I begin to walk in and out of the rooms of my fellow constituents or patients and try to encourage them. And then if I knew of resources that was available in our community, I would share. And so really, if you can make a deal with God, I really said in that moment, God, if you spared my life, I dedicate my life, the rest of my life, working and walking with individuals to kind of make this a holistic care. All and I know that you all's focus deals with interdisciplinary care and so this describes, really truly, the context of care, that manner in which care is delivered that all components touch. And so, as a patient and as one who has survived. I flatlined during my time, I've been through major crisis, and so interdisciplinary care is essential because you meet the patient or the person that is dealing with illness where they are. So I've done, I'm a minister, you know, in places of worship, I've done visitation for years, I've been walking in and out of the rooms of those out not only with clinical issues but also mental health. You know, as a minister, you journey, but you should be journeying with individuals that you have been entrusted to. So that means providing support, and whatever that support is, you are trained well enough to hear as you are listening, and then being able to adapt and to provide resources and care that will assist them. So C-TAC is based out in Washington, DC. It's our mission that all Americans with serious illness, especially the sickest and most vulnerable, receive comprehensive, high quality person- and family-centered care that is consistent with their goals, values and honors their dignity. I oversee the interfaith and work group that's there. And so these are faith leaders all throughout the United States, where our mission is to journey better with those, the divine, holy, whatever the faith tradition is, making sure that we honor that call and serve folks very well.

Cal Cates  8:41  

Yeah, I think, I think when we think of interdisciplinary, we, well, when I say we, I mean sort of broadly healthcare, I feel like what you just described is so often not considered, and that we think of sort of, quote, unquote, clinical interventions. And I feel really lucky that my entrance into the hospital-based practice 15 years ago was with palliative care and so chaplains and spiritual direction have always been a big part of what I've seen care include but when you, you know, you just read C-TAC's mission, and it's like, well, duh, of course, you would want that, but we're nowhere near that. And it, yeah, it's really, we believe it but when it comes down to really doing it, there are a lot of barriers.

Cathy Ryan  9:27  

Mm hmm. Well, and what you describe, as well, to me, you know, I'm sitting here thinking about, well, that sounds like nonpartisan faith. You know, where faith from a variety of different types of thinking can come together at the table and talk about what is best for the patient and it not being, well, you have to believe in this particular deity or God or it's just that all these variety of faith leaders are coming together, which again, I think speaks to the whole disciplinary thing, interdisciplinary thing, where there's not really a hierarchy or one that is considered to have more importance or value than another. 

Cal Cates  10:12  

Yeah, I was watching a, I think, a talk that you gave. I can't remember where I found it online but there was, in the transcript, I copied this. It said, you said, if we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, that means whatever we do in love must produce justice. And I, I have a very complicated relationship with the word justice, because I feel like justice and sort of vengeance get somehow conflated in our society and I'm curious, when you... What does justice look like from your perspective and sort of how, as healthcare providers, do we, what's our role in ensuring or even just facilitating the likelihood of justice?

Angela Overton  10:54  

Well, it's so interesting because, when you think of morals and you think of ethics and you think of equity, which are all components of justice, it gets conflated and confused with our interpretation of what that is. So, so many times, I could be saying something and, Cal, you could be saying something, but our understanding of it is completely different. And so we think we are on the same page, but we're not. And so, when you look at equity, it's the quality of being fair and impartial. That means, whatever we need to do, in order to create a place and system and nation and world that is just, that is filled with justice, we have to examine, is this fair to all and so fair doesn't necessarily mean the same. And so we get that very confused when we omit love. And so this is the spiritual piece of it but this is also the moral and the ethic. It's the the ethos, if you will, I feel like. And so even when you break down the word love, or if you look even at it in the Greek, there is this Eros love, which is sexual and it's passionate. And then Philia, which is the deep friendship, and Ludus, is the playful love, and Agape, is love for everyone, and Pragma, is a long standing love. And then you have that other love, Philautia, which is the love of the self. So you, then if you don't understand the essence of the depth of love and the many components of love, you can even get that confused with the love that produces justice. And so what I like to focus on is the Agape love, the friendly love, and the deep friendship love. But if you really look at Agape love, this means that I have a love for everyone. And so this is where love is justice. And it's, it's not about treating your neighbor as you, as yourself per se. It's finding out what that neighbor needs, and then providing that into, into their world, into their places, and so, a love that is just. So justice means for me, environments, institutions, systems that will bring about the best opportunity for everyone equally. And tell me what your second part of the question was, I got excited.

Cal Cates  13:48  

The second part is so, so as providers, I mean, it's interesting, because, you know, I feel like George Floyd's murder gave Healwell the opening to really bring the social justice aspect of healthcare that we've always felt very passionate about, really, to the front. And, but we've got, we've gotten some pushback, like, what does this have to do with massage therapy? And sort of, you know, what does it have to do with being a person, you know, and and so, as healthcare providers, because I think a lot of our listeners are various shades of healthcare providers, how do we, what can we do to facilitate the likelihood of that kind of love, that kind of justice in our systems, whether they be great big hospital systems, or cities or towns, or even my tiny practice of three practitioners? Where are the places maybe that you see love being obstructed where.. you know, you know what I'm getting at.

Angela Overton  14:51  

Okay, so there is a lot there. 

Cal Cates  14:53  


Angela Overton  14:55  

So you said a lot and so I want to try to touch on each appropriately. So, we all have to come to the table, but there also has to be an open table. And so that means that you have to have diverse tables, it won't be sufficient per se to say we desire diversity, but no one at the table resembles the diversity that you're seeking after. So that's one component of it. When you have a, let's say, a transgender individual, a person with disabilities, an African American, a Native American, a Latin American, you know, an Asian American, you have diverse folks actually coming to the table, that's when, really truly, systems can be created that will reach your target audience. So, if for one, if you're trying to live in a just and fair world, and, even if you have the desire, who will teach you that the words that just came out of your mouth had a racist undertone, it had a very judgmental undertone. So if you have like minded individuals, that look just like you and walk just like you and talk like you, you're really setting yourself up for hindrance. I was reading, even in the Forbes magazine, that diversity pushes consumer satisfaction. I have no idea why we haven't grabbed a hold of that, that that same sort of model will also improve patient health care satisfaction, because you have folks at the table that have come together with the desire to improve quality of life for the individuals that they serve. And what we learned with COVID-19 is that our nation is deeply divided, our nation is deeply segregated, if you will. I know that's true. 

Cal Cates  17:06  

It is true, it is true.

Angela Overton  17:09  

Since the transatlantic, for example, to 2021, we still live in a society where folks are treated differently based upon the hue of their skin color. So that's an issue. The George Floyd incident, as you mentioned, was quite traumatic for many, because it was a modern day lynching before your very eyes. And so with other incidents that we've had, you know, here I'm living in Louisville, Kentucky, so Breonna Taylor, you know, all of these incidents, we heard of it and we saw videos later, but we didn't see life in an individual and then eight minutes and 46 seconds, I think it was, later that length of time, which it was, it was gone. So thinking that we're done with black codes and Jim Crows and the civil unrest, it was very challenging, complicated with COVID-19. So, it is very clear that humanity and the sanctity of it, and to provide this, it is not. So it is going to be crucial for us to move forward in putting aside of our differences in order to gain commonality. So when we gain this sort of commonality for the desire to improve the life for everyone, then we can find harmony together, then we can create best practices together, then we can try those best practices out, then we have evidence-based practices, because this is what we set out to do. We strategically aligned ourselves. And Cal and Cathy, I love massage, okay, I'm a caregiver, you know, I have a child who has lupus and I have a child who is, has, is on the spectrum. And so, massage therapy has been critical for both of them, right? And so I'm the one that hasn't been licensed to massage but I understand, do I have an option to receive massage therapy? No, not so much but I have an option to receive behavioral therapy. So one of the things that I love about C-TAC is it's not just about the interfaith workgroup but it's also about policy and advocacy and state coalitions. These are individuals and even our members for C-TAC, we range from hospice care to palliative care and massage - listen - folks, representatives, literacy projects, homecare, you know, nurses - it's every one that touches the person that we are trying to serve. So how on earth can we come up with a strategic plan when we're not all represented in the room. 

Cal Cates  20:03  


Cathy Ryan  20:06  

Yes. We're having another drop the mic moment. I mean, absolutely, there has to be representation. Otherwise, there's no opportunity for those of us who are white to learn and understand and grow and grasp the complexity of what has been going on in the world, the complexity of the inequity of what's been going on in the world. 

Cal Cates  20:35  

Yeah, well, I wonder too, what, what do you see in terms of because I mean, as you're describing that table, with the various representation, you know, the other conversation that we're regularly having is, there's a really distinct difference between tokenism and inclusion. And, you know, how do we move, white people don't know about their whiteness, and how their whiteness shows up and how it prevents meaningful inclusion. And I imagine that you have initiated and participated in a variety of uncomfortable conversations around that. And I guess I want to open the floor for you to share whatever you feel like might be useful to share in this format around when you've had to call in or call out or what do you see systemically in terms of things that make it hard to do meaningful inclusion?

Angela Overton  21:29  

Oh, that is a very weighted question. It also, if I'm honest, has, is connected to, I would say, some traumatic moments I've had in my life, and tokenism. So, let's break down what tokenism is, it's that when someone of, let's say, for example, your target audience, you only, you're used as an individual to say we have diversity. And, but it's, tokenism is when you talk about diversity, when the subject comes about equity, you're pointed out to be the expert on that subject. And one of the things that I see often is, many times, when it's related or questions of equity or even policy, many faith leaders are brought into the room. And the truth of the matter is we have experience with that per se, on the social level. But as far as being academically trained, we haven't, many of us have not done that. And so tokenism and inclusion, it happens often, when you're asked to speak of faith, then you're, you have expert enough to talk about faith, you're asked to speak on, like I said, diversity, equity, and inclusion, what does that look like? But when it comes to other pieces, and now there are experts in this field, you know, you wouldn't necessarily want me to share on the legislative piece. But there are plenty of those individuals that have been minoritized, I don't use the word minorities, those who have been minoritized, who can speak on that subject. But if you don't have that individual in your circle or at your table, you'll go to the individual that looks like what you're trying to get at. And that is not inclusion, that is not inclusion at all. Every field that there is, there is an expert to be able to speak on that subject, with the target audience of being that subject. So if it is an African American, there is an expert to speak on that subject. Don't just look for the African American in the audience and call them out for that. So I've dealt with this. I'm, I've been doing visitation, I've been doing ministry 25 years now. So, you know, we've come a long ways in many instances and other instances we ain't gone nowhere.

Cathy Ryan  24:23  

Yeah, you know, that is such an important point that you just made, you know, you know, like, for me, for example, someone who identifies as queer. Don't look to me to speak for all queer people. I can I can talk about my experience of growing up queer in the 1970s, not a picnic, or living in the world that we live in. But that you know, and I think that's a thing that sometimes people miss, you know, we'll just look for someone with that color skin and then they can speak to this and then now we know. Yeah, yeah, no, no, no, no.

Cal Cates  25:00  

Well, and that's and I think you were hinting at this too, Angela, like, and that is the only thing that they're qualified to speak about. We're not going to notice that they're also a policy expert or also an engineer also - this is our black person, this is our Asian person. And, you know, I'm thinking about when, when we get into topics like this, where there can become suddenly the sense of project and like, this is so big, I don't even know how to undo this. I think I was just, it just came to my mind, one of my colleagues went to a workshop last year with Sebene Selassie, who does a lot of exploration around racial healing and racial trauma. And, in one of the breakout sessions, she invited the participants to organize themselves if, if it would increase their comfort, to organize themselves in groups of racialized groups, basically. And so, you know, African American people being together, Asian peoples being together, or whatever. And this white nurse had come with a friend of hers, that she'd been friends with this gentleman for, you know, 15 or so years, and he was Filipino. And when they went to break out, he left her to go to be with people of color. And she, like, kind of in front of the group, was like, wait, where are you going? And, and he was like, well, I want to be with people who will really see me and she's like, well, but we're, we've been friends for 15 years. And he said, well, but yeah, but I'm your, I'm your Filipino friend. I'm like, well, I don't I don't see that you're Filipino. And he's like, that's my point. We are friends. And I do love you and I know that you love me. But when we're talking about these issues of racial healing, you and I have had very different experiences and you're wholly unaware of how different my experience is, and that you're not seeing how different it is, is actually a way of not seeing me. And that we can engage in inclusion, even in our own little tiny parts of the world and we, rather than wearing our different friends as badges go, oh, like, how have I not seen my friend who is this thing that's different from me? And, like, we don't want to do that, it's really uncomfortable.

I mean, that's where we learn. That's when we really can engage each other.


Angela Overton  27:17  

Knowing the history of where we are. That's why I think America, American history as it's taught in our schools, it's done such a disservice, not only from to, to us, but to future generations. It really has prevented us from really healing as you, as you just said, and because it is not inclusive, right, there is no integration of all of American history, even  the, the deplorable years of what I would say was just outright violence. 

Cal Cates  27:56  

Yeah. Yeah. Well, and we don't we don't want to say that, actually, that's kind of a lot of American history. I mean, we talk about, you know, regardless of political persuasion, the phrase Make America Great Again assumes that America was great. And to really go into the details of how America became America. It's hard to find the greatness, really.

Angela Overton  28:22  

Well, you know, it's not even just America, it's really a thought, you know, we don't really study evil. We don't study that it has always been around us and it has perversed itself in such a way into individuals that allows evil to come forth. And so we don't, we don't study it, personal, some of us do, you know? 

Cal Cates  28:53  


Angela Overton  28:53  

You know, yeah, some of us do. But we all don't look around to see truly if we address it, even if we look at our - I know this is going a little bit off, but even if we look at our penal system, you know. It's, it's, it's horrible as in England in its inception, how it was even established, the idea for punishment. You know, that does not, and not everyone will agree with me, but to punish another individual incites a form of evil that I don't even think people are aware of. You know, to not look at it as, you look at it as retributive versus as reconciliation. And when you have that mindset, and it's the same thing with our health system, we're not necessarily looking at it as nonprofit per se, but you know, we have to analyze some of these things. And, and I'll tell you this though, if a system will not change, if the people do not change - who was operating the change, who were making the rules and records to change, our legislators, all of that, it will not change if they do not change. And so, subsequently, this whole piece that we're dealing with right now, it's only going to change when we we address the historical components of it, and the effect that it has had is where we are today.

Cathy Ryan  30:33  

Yes. Again, another drop the mic moment. I think that is such a fundamentally important statement that you just made is, we really have to honestly look at our history. And that's the same here in Canada, we are a colonized nation. So we are a nation that was built on genocide and the eradication of another culture, their language, their, their governance structure, everything, you know, it's what has happened here in Canada, with the indigenous people that were, are the original people that lived on this land. So until we can really own our history, I don't know how we're going to be able to really start to move forward in a different way. And I agree with you, we have to teach history differently in our schools so people really understand the tragedies that occurred that, you know, this nation was built from and similarily in the US as well. And yes, there was slavery in Canada, too. Don't think that there wasn't. A lot of people think that there wasn't, but yeah, no, there was there was slavery here, too. You know, sometimes that gets sort of glossed over because of the Underground Railroad. But yeah, no, sadly, that was, that is part of our history as well. That's not taught in school here in Canada, you have this kind of scramble to find that information.

Angela Overton  32:00  

Well, you can, you've said a mouthful there, Cathy, because if you, in dealing with history, then you'll also have to deal with the creation of race, right? The creation of colorism. And you'll have to think of the when race was created, it was to support a construct for economic wealth and gain. 

Cal Cates  32:23  


Angela Overton  32:23  

And so the only way that that construct could be realized or sustained is that individuals will buy in to the notion of white superiority, whiteness. Eurocentric westernized way of thought was superior to any other thought. And so you have the colonization of not just Canada, but any, all throughout our world, this took place. And so even, you have black and brown individuals or any non-white folk that still have to deal with the ramifications of being non-preferred, non-value. And so that value, our construct of white superiority, devalued anyone and all that didn't fit within that brain. When we don't deal with that, even black and brown little girls and boys are walking around with an esteem issue that results in inappropriate behaviors. But there is a reason behind that. If we had in our institutions, in our places of worship even, because that still goes on, preference and patriarchal system. This all affects the way we are touching. Yes, humanity. And so when we don't touch appropriately, when we don't lift up, and we tear down. And this is really, this affects our health, this affects mental health, physical health, even our spiritual health, our spiritual well being. And a lot of people get, I'll say this, twisted when it comes to spirituality. Spirituality means those that are agnostic, atheists, it means a purposeful life. And so, a lot of folks don't understand that spirituality has everything to do with the self worth, the self value, but also your purpose as you move in life. And if our world, if our nation says that you are less than, how does that impede on our healthcare and our well being as individuals?

Cal Cates  34:36  

Yeah, yeah. Well, and I think this is the, this is the challenge when you look at sort of, I mean, for me, it's a slam dunk as a person who makes their living touching. But we hear from providers all the time who say, Well, I live in a really white community and I only see white people so what's my job here? And, you know, we do, we used to do when, in the before times when we did live classes, we would do this exercise where we would have students come in, and we'd split the groups and the, you know, six of the students say would be on the massage table. And we would take the ones who are going to be touching out in the hallway, we would say, okay, when you go in and touch your partner in this next exercise, don't say any of this out loud, but kind of have a script in your head about like, get better, don't be in pain, you know, just really directive sort of, like, stop what's happening now. And then, you know, we'd have them hold their, their partner's head for five minutes or so with that kind of internal energy. And then we would have them break contact and come back out in the hallway. And then the second time, we would say, when you go back in this time, think about the wholeness and the beauty, and how both of you fit into this giant web of belonging. And without fail, the people on the table would report that the second contact felt better, felt more nurturing, felt more connected. And I feel like what you just talked about, as a white provider, maybe working in a white rural community, I can create change by touching my white clients in a way that says, you're white but the world is full of lots of different people and we are all part of this giant network. And I'm not, I am noticing my preference for you, maybe, you know, maybe I'm not in a place where I actually can say, like, Okay, I'm really loving with that capital L. And regardless of who comes in, I see their difference and love them not in spite of, but perhaps because of, but that if only, if I only interact with white people, I can still do that inner work. And I can still make that change. And we can learn history, and we should learn history, and we can learn about systems. But as you said, and we just started reading here in our office Resmaa Menakem's "My Grandmother's Hands" and learning about how we hold trauma in our bodies. And whether it be racial trauma or other trauma that you can learn the history, but then you can't pretend that that's, that's what happened before. That the way I interact with you today is informed by my inherited trauma, my current trauma, the trauma that I'm trying not to feel when I'm around black bodies, etc. and, if you are in a care providing role, this is your job. So I don't care what kind of care you're providing, whether you're a social worker, a chaplain or a physician, a massage therapist, if you don't get this, you're not helping.

Angela Overton  37:34  

Oh, no, you know, you said here again, you said so much, Cal, just a whole mouthful, I want to just touch a little bit of it.

Cal Cates  37:42  


Angela Overton  37:43  

I'll tell you, I just had a workgroup call with our interfaith workgroup members. We meet regularly And we were talking about our 2021 priorities for C-TAC and the role of faith leaders in that. And so this year, as well as last year, we have been very big on equity. And so because, you know, the curtains has almost really, we're exposed right now. So any organization, any entity, right now, you really have to be paying attention to equity. Because for many folks who have been dealing with inequitable situations, they're tired and they're frustrated. And so if you, if you don't really tend to that, we really have the environment for very explosive behaviors to occur. So just wanted to say that. So there was a white reverend there and said, Angela, I am over a completely white congregation, and just exactly what you said, they got their other issues they got, they're trying to deal with pandemic and all of this. And so she says, how do I bring this to a forefront? And you know, I always say this - be the change that you want to see. Right? JFK, right. So if we know that systemic racism is a problem, and if we know that United States and Canada has some constructs that have been created to intentionally, intentionally put the knee, and I'm using this metaphorically, on the neck of said individuals, Martin Luther King said injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. What you wind up happening, what winds up happening is that we accept status quo because right now, right now, it's not affecting us. But the truth of the matter is, it is affecting you because your neighbor, another human being, is being treated inappropriately, that is not morally, I don't care what faith you are. That's not morally or ethically, it's just absolutely wrong. And it's not just the persons who are being persecuted and oppressed's problem, this is all of our problem. And we're going to have to work together in order to find a reputable solution. You also said something, Cal, based on touch, you said about massage therapy. And what is interesting for me is that all of my life, touch has been a very major component. But now we're living in COVID-19 and that ability to physically touch has been impeded. And I'll never forget, I was in seminary and I was taking, ironically, a course called Sexuality and Pastoral Practice. And I first learned of a skin touch. And so a lot of people, you know, basically from birth until the day we die, our need for physical contact remains. Being touch starved, touch deprivation occurs when a person experienced little to no touch from other living things.

Cal Cates  41:23  


Angela Overton  41:23  

We have a society that has been strategically set up, that there is a section of humanity that refuses to touch another. And so you have folks who are dealing with deprivation, right? Because they're being they're not being touched. And then you also have this other piece where they're being touched inappropriately. You have a group of folks that are, I will say, mentally being raped on a continual basis. And so what I'm saying is, is that we have to think now, how do we touch without touching them amid COVID-19. We still have the mandate, the folks still have the desire. That's why we're dealing with such mental health concerns amid COVID-19. 

Cal Cates  42:11  


Angela Overton  42:11  

And so if we do not, this is our world, right? This is the moment that we're in. We have to collectively decide how am I going to improve life in 2021. I'm in the pandemic, amid COVID-19, amid systemic racism, amid all of the inequalities. We haven't even got into gender inequalities, you know. 

Cal Cates  42:36  


Angela Overton  42:37  

There's always an individual that it seems is being stepped on in order for us, another group, to be propelled. That's out of order. That's not going to create an effective and, what we just talked about, fair, a system that is just.

Cal Cates  42:54  

Yeah. We love our ladders.

Angela Overton  42:59  

But we want our ladders on the backs of humans, other human beings.

Cathy Ryan  43:07  

What we need to learn to do is is hold hands and all rise.

Cal Cates  43:13  

All rise. Yeah. I was talking with, I wonder if you have an opinion about this. I was talking with our show's producer, Rebecca Sturgeon, and she had read an article, something about how white people don't know how to have, what was called in the article, real talk, in the same way that the African American community does and that that is part of, it limits our ability to have true conversation. And I wonder if what, what are your thoughts about that? I mean, I don't have a hard time believing that at all. But I think white people have so much work to do that I'm willing to take whatever feedback is offered in the direction of our need to grow.

Angela Overton  43:52  

I'm not into necessarily compartmentalizing individuals because I don't know all white people. 

Cal Cates  43:59  

Sure. Thank you for that. 

Angela Overton  44:03  

I know a lot of folks, but there is, there's a book I think it's called "Racist Fragility" or "Above ..."

Cal Cates  44:13  

"White Fragility"

Cathy Ryan  44:13  

"White Fragility"

Angela Overton  44:15  

It's a great, it's a great article, book. I read it. And that speaks to your statement, your question. When we talk, I just know that there is a real talk. And I'll tell you this, just in my understanding of, I weave in between academic settings, in the ghetto settings, in places of worship where there's 20,000 members and then when there's 50, right? So I engage in many different environments and what I found here, again, is a hierarchal understanding of what is intellect? 

Cal Cates  45:09  


Angela Overton  45:09  

So, I have always, one of my greatest lessons, I'll never forget it, I was doing an intern at Sherwin Williams in Cleveland, Ohio. And it was connected to, like this mall area which had food. And there was a person where I presumed was homeless, ask for some money. And so it was a safe place and I was like, I'll give you no money, but I'll buy you a cup of coffee. And so we had a cup of coffee. And I learned he was extremely intelligent, smart, street smart. And so, many folks who are on the academic setting devalue other ways of knowing. And so if a person, let's say, speaks in what they call broken language, well, I would like to tell you though, that broken language is very similar to the original Hebrew language, if you will, early on. So we were the ones who needed to add this grammar and structure to a sentence. I find that quite funny that the sentence structure is quite different in the languages of antiquity than it is currently. But it's what we said was right, I'm only getting to this because I have found that in Eurocentric conversations, this understanding of what knowledge is, really, has been an impediment on having real conversation. And so I have noticed that people of color, not just African Americans but those Latinas, Latinx communities, Hispanic, are more apt to accepting, right? And so the conversations, there are many individuals from different parts of sections of academic scholarship, a different way of street learning knowledge. So there's some real talk in that, some. And so that's what I think is also a hindrance, when some folks come to a place of healthcare where we don't, as clinical providers, don't pay attention to their way of receiving information and so what happens is, what's you're transcribing, what you're saying is not being received? And so many times folks will say, well, they didn't want to accept it. No, how you said it wasn't articulated in a manner where they can understand. So I don't know if I answered your question, Cal.

Cal Cates  47:32  

Yeah, I think you did and then some. 

Cathy Ryan  47:35  

Yeah,  and then some.

Cal Cates  47:36  

That's the thing. Because if they don't understand, they're the dumb one. Right? I mean, the person? 

Angela Overton  47:40  

I didn't say that, Cal (laughs).

Cal Cates  47:42  

No, but no, no, no, no, what I'm saying is that, that is the perception from the sort of mainstream provider. If I provide information to the person who's been minoritized and they don't get it, I think, oh, they're not smart enough to get it. It's never, oh, maybe I didn't communicate that in a way that was assessable. It's always sort of, well, if you were smarter, then I wouldn't have to, and it's like, well, no, you're, you are professing to be a carer of people. And so your job is to actually understand what's necessary for this person you're caring for, to make the best possible use of your advice. And...

Angela Overton  48:19  

But you will only be able to do that if you invite yourself in with people, on your social, on your social platforms, you intentionally get to know other cultures. So that, and I think a lot of people don't do that, you know, I think Black people are forced to get an understanding of how white Americans act, react, understand, because this is the world we have to fit in. So we have learned to not only adapt, but we have to if we're going to survive. This has not been placed on folks of, that are Eurocentric, you know, you don't ever, I mean, I will say, you don't ever, that's a harsh statement, but it hasn't been forced upon you in our nation to adapt. This is, everything right here is, unfortunately, it's what you're comfortable with. 

Cal Cates  49:18  


Angela Overton  49:19  

So. mm-hmm.

Cal Cates  49:21  


Cathy Ryan  49:23  

And I definitely see that piece come up generationally as well. When my, when my mom was still living, I would, she didn't live close to me, but I would call her doctor after she had a doctor's appointment, have a conversation with her doctor, and then call my mom back and explain to her what the doctor said. Because it was so much complex information and she just got overwhelmed and you know, so we see that come up in a variety of ways in healthcare and I think for me, as a provider of healthcare, it's been very important to be mindful of trying to figure out ways to communicate with my clients so that it is helpful for them and doesn't leave them feeling something less than or confused or overwhelmed, or whatever the case may be.

Angela Overton  50:17  

Yeah, we at C-TAC, one of our big push this year is to really provide space to share models of care. And so even our models of care, and you can even go and see some of, there's a C-TAC Community Engagement Toolkit online. You can go to But what we found is, is that a model of care are tools that we can use to engage any community. And so even when we learn how to properly engage in this caring way and manner, the way that we engage per se in, let's say, an urban environment, the same tools can be used to engage folks that are in a rural environment. I think, you know, Martin Luther King was getting at, I know I said his name already but he was getting to the point that and even Malcolm X spoke of it, this is, it's not really a race issue. We utilize it, we've separated as race but it's really a human issue. Yeah, that's what Malcolm X was saying, it's about humanity. And Martin Luther King really was saying that when we, when we get, when we understand that we are more alike, than we are different, we will be mindful to serve each other. And so these models of care, really truly, are meant to be used as a template on how do I as a clinician, how do I of any one of these disciplines, how do I treat people that I am in touch with? Right, so learning how others receive information is very critical in our care, and that goes beyond color. It's really dignity. It's really respecting and respectful in learning. You have, this is our model for the interfaith workgroup is that you have, when you understand how folks receive information, you can meet them where they are.

Cal Cates  52:40  

Yeah. Yeah, and outcomes improve, and people's lives improve. And in some ways, it's not that heavy a lift. I mean, if we could improve communication and understanding, imagine how much better care could be and yeah. Oh, well, we would love to talk with you for three more hours about all of this. But we can't, we have to, we have to wrap up for today. But are there any things that you didn't say that you think we really should know or anything that you really want to leave our listeners with?

Angela Overton  53:22  

I just believe that we have an opportunity here. We have an opportunity to leave this world, because our life has just been a breath, we have an opportunity to leave it better than what we found it. I love Imam Yusuf Hasan, he's a, I think he's the only Muslim chaplain actually in New York, he's at Sloan Kettering Hospital. And he said this to me once and I thought it was beautiful. He says the Prophet Muhammad, you would say peace be unto him. He taught us this prayer that sums up our faith, our hope, and our aspirations, and things that matter. So when one of us is sick, we say I hope you will take care of me, I hope you will listen to me, or I hope to meet my loved ones in paradise. And so what I leave with you all is that I hope we will take care of one another. And I hope we will listen to one another. That is my hope. That is my prayer. And that is my final word. 

Cal Cates  54:47  

Thank you. Wow. Well, this has been another episode of Interdisciplinary. Cathy, anything, any parting words?

Cathy Ryan  54:57  

No, I I think that really just sums it up that let's just take care of each other. You know, we're in health care, let's put the emphasis on care.

Cal Cates  55:11  

And, and opportunities often come with challenge. So it doesn't mean we're going in the wrong direction because it's hard. Take advantage. Thank you guys for listening, staying with us today. And please go out and tell the world on social media and wherever else you interact with humans to come and give a listen and see what it's like in here where we're trying to care about each other a little bit better. And go ahead and check out our Patreon options if you want to make sure this podcast keeps happening. We keep getting awesome guests and getting out to all the places where people want to listen. And thanks for listening. We'll see you next week.

Rebecca Sturgeon  55:50  

interdisciplinary is produced by Healwell. Our theme music is by Harry Pickens. You can send us feedback at, that's New episodes will be posted weekly, via Apple podcasts, Spotify and our Facebook page. Thank you.

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