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Black women account for only 2% of all physicians and only 2% of all attorneys in the US. Hence, being a Black doctor or lawyer and a woman can sometimes be and feel like a lonely place. For that reason, Black women lawyers and doctors have formed a new sisterhood called White Coats and Gavels.
Dr. Barbara Joy Jones-Parks the founder of the networking group, says “I formed the group to bring us together professionally. The sisterhood became personal during the pandemic because we really needed each other. WOC have unique struggles in these fields and representation matters.”
She further explains how White Coats and Gavels is creating a pipeline for younger Black women who aspire to be in the highlight respectable industries as well. “There are future lawyers and future doctors over at the check-in table,” she points out, “these young ladies get inspired to pursue their dreams, simply by being in this room”.
The group plans to continue cultivating more pre-med and pre-law students. “A lot of times people don’t become doctors or lawyers because they don’t have the money to apply, or they don’t have the direction. So we will basically hone in on that with mentorship and scholarships respectively,” Dr. Jones-Park explains.
In December the group held its first in-person event— the White Coats and Gavels Holiday Soiree, inviting The Black Wall Street Times. Importantly,vaccination was a requirement for those in attendance.
Over 130 Black doctors and lawyers arrived dressed to impress, or perhaps wearing some of their best simply because it makes them feel good. And with all of these Black professionals having well-paying careers, one can imagine the space feeling like Black Excellence on steroids and the sweet fragrance of the world’s finest perfumes filling the room.
Collectively, White Coats and Gavels holds billions of dollars which speaks volumes regarding the power Black women doctors and lawyers possess. And members of the group aren’t taking their collective power for granted.
Jones-Parks and seven other members of the group created an investment group called GWC Investment Group LLC.
Attorney Kemay Jackson is another member of the group. She practices Criminal, Family, and Immigration Law in the Atlanta metro area.
“Black women lawyers and Black women doctors are really the other side of the same coin. We’re both women who got our professional degrees. We realize that we haven’t gotten to know each other and haven’t supported each other in the past. We’re Black women who were crazy enough to enter White male-dominated industries. And we’re women who had the audacity to believe we could do it and be successful at it.”
Jackson helps Jones-Parks recruit for White Coats and Gavels which now has over 1,400 members. Their friendship sparked through sisterhood. Both are members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Jackson’s message to the next generation of Black women lawyers and doctors:
“Don’t let anyone tell you you don’t belong here, you’re not good enough. Had you have to know that you’re good enough and that you belong. And if you believe you should go to law school or medical school, know that no matter what challenges you face. Even if no one in your family has graduated from or ever went to college, you can definitely and will succeed. And not just survive, you can thrive in these industries.”
Dr. Ryland Gore is a member of White Coats and Gavels and a breast surgical oncologist. Gore chose to become a physician after noticing disparities in her community as early as high school. Before going to medical school earning her master’s degree was her first stop in pursuit to change her communities narrative. “I knew it was important to address health issues on a community level because that’s how you really affect change.”
Gore earned her medical degree from Morehouse School of Medicine and is a board-certified surgent.
“As you get exposed to the field, you become more educated and realize how much the medical industry can work against Black folks. Even in my surgent residency, I saw how people are treated, ignored, and their complaints not taken seriously. And I actually still see that. But now I’m in a position as a surgent and can say the buck stops with me,” Gore explains.
Her practice motto is “You should never and will never walk out of my office not knowing what’s going on with your body.”
She further explains the continued health disparities that Black women face in the medical field.
“We are four times more likely to die of breast cancer in comparison to our white counterparts. Our mortality rates are 40% higher. We’re more likely to be diagnosed before the age of 45. We’re more likely to be ignored, and we’re more likely to have advanced disease at diagnosis. So being in this role has been pivotal because I can really make a difference in the lives of all my patients. But it means so much more when I can make a diffence in the life of a Black woman or woman of color,” Dr. Gore says.
Since the establishment of White Coats and Gavels, members of the group offered one another sisterly medical and legal advice. Dr. Jones-Parks will move forward in 2022 with forming chapters in other cities so WOC can embrace.