“You can’t be what you can’t see.” So says former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders about the importance of exposing young women and minorities to role models in the medical field in the groundbreaking new documentary, “Black Women in Medicine.” Directed by Crystal R. Emery, the film shines the spotlight on women who have succeeded against all odds in a male-dominated field. “Black Women in Medicine” will have its world theatrical premiere on Friday, August 26th at Cinema Village, (22 East 12th Street, New York, NY), a limited one-week theatrical release. Directly following the Manhattan run will be the Los Angeles premiere on Friday, September 2nd at Laemmle’s Music Hall Theatre (9036 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, CA), also a one-week run. Both theaters are Academy qualifying cinemas, ensuring that the film meets all criteria to be considered for an Academy Award nomination.
The first documentary of its kind, “Black Women in Medicine” chronicles the unsung journeys of Black female doctors who have risen above inequality to excellence to become leaders in their fields. It explores race and gender inequities impacting the contemporary physician workforce, while paying tribute to pioneers in the field. The film also replaces negative imagery — the mainstream media’s false and debasing historical narrative regarding race, ethnicity, gender and character — with positive images of successful Black female doctors.
Emery, a quadriplegic with paralyzed limbs from a form of muscular dystrophy, wrote, directed and produced the film. A powerhouse and force of nature, Emery’s writing has appeared in numerous publications, including Time Magazine. She is currently working on her fourth book, “Without a Trace,” a love story. Emery recently launched a national campaign, the “Changing the Face of Medicine Initiative.” The effort is designed to work with a diversity of allies, to increase the percentage of Black doctors in the United States from 4.5 percent in 2016 to 7 percent by 2030.
“My mission is to create work that inspires people everywhere to challenge self-imposed and other-imposed limitations so as to reach their fullest potential,” says Emery. “To that end, Black Women in Medicine will provide a heavy helping of motivation for chasing one’s dreams, not just to young Black Americans, but to all Americans and world citizens.”
“We desperately need role models to come forward and share their stories, so that our children can consider careers in the health care professions,” says Dr. Claudia L. Thomas, the first Black female orthopedic surgeon. “We need to reach a point where a patient isn’t surprised to see a Black female doctor is their heart surgeon, or their primary care physician or the expert consulted on their orthopedic surgery. Crystal R. Emery has made those role models come forward and heralds their success, so that a 10-year-old Black girl today can envision herself as a physician.”
As a companion to the feature documentary, Emery has published “Against All Odds: Celebrating Black Women in Medicine,” a companion book of biographical photo-essays that features the stories of over 100 Black female physicians. Emery’s film, book, and digital platforms are part of a national community engagement campaign produced by Connecticut based non-profit, URU The Right To Be, Inc.
For more information about the film theatrical launch and book sales, visit www.ChangingtheFaceofMedicine.org. Follow @BlackWomenMDs on Twitter, and visit: www. facebook.com/BlackWomenMDs on Facebook.