The Beth Zemsky Podcast: Episode 18

Intentionality in Crisis

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Friends –

I hope you and your loved ones are doing as well as possible during this challenging time.

In addition, to figuring out how to move much of my work onto Zoom, I’ve also been thinking a lot about the nature of crises – particularly about the danger and the opportunities they present regarding making systemic change.

The data is clear that the Covid-19 pandemic is disproportionately impacting black, brown and poor communities. Decades of disinvestment in public health infrastructure and economic and community development, coupled with the warehousing of black and brown bodies in substandard housing, prisons, immigrant detention centers, and close quarter assembly lines (i.e meat packing plants) has resulted in higher infection and death rates. It should be no surprise, if we allow ourselves to see the muck that has the been exposed, that systemic inequities lead to systemic disparities.

One of the lessons I learned when working as a family psychotherapist was never to waste a crisis because opportunities for systemic change emerge in crises that might never come again. In times of crisis, systems are disrupted enough for real change to happen – for people to see and hear things that were invisible to them before, to experiment with new behaviors and ways to show up for each other, and to shift structural aspects of interactions that significantly heal and alter the system. In short, intentionally utilizing the disruptive aspects of a crisis presents an opportunity to accelerate systemic growth and change.

Last week, at the invitation of the Geraldine R Dodge Foundation, I posted a blog that explored this topic, specifically How to Implement Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity during a Pandemic. In addition, Ryan and I recorded a podcast that provided us an opportunity to expand the conversation.

Beth also wrote a blog post on this topic. You can read it here.