Angelina Jolie stepped out for dinner the other night in LA with two of her children, Pax and Zahara. The last time I posted about her she was in New York for her birthday with all of her kids and was seen at Jonny Lee Miller’s. Since then, there have been some efforts to suggest that the two might be reconciling but she hasn’t been back to NYC since so it’s kinda hard to fuel those rumours when they’re physically not in the same place.
She is travelling though, having returned from a two-day trip to Burkina Faso with the UNHCR to mark World Refugee Day, where she advocated for more international attention and appealed to governments around the world to put more focus and resources on helping displaced populations.
"Compared to when I began working with UNHCR twenty years ago, it seems like governments have largely given up on diplomacy ... countries which have the least are doing the most to support the refugees," she said.
"The truth is we are not doing half of what we could and should ... to enable refugees to return home, or to support host countries, like Burkina Faso, coping for years with a fraction of the humanitarian aid needed to provide basic support and protection," Jolie said.
Angelina has also just done a new interview with TIME in which she speaks to medical student Malone Mukwende who is raising awareness about how medical teaching and research is so heavily based on white data from white patients. So he’s launched a handbook, Mind the Gap, and an online platform, Hutano, to address the situation and encourage people how to be more mindful about their medical care. Angelina related to Malone in her experience with her children, sharing this about Zahara:
“I have children from different backgrounds, and I know when there was a rash that everybody got, it looked drastically different depending on their skin color. But whenever I looked at medical charts, the reference point was always white skin. Recently my daughter Zahara, whom I adopted from Ethiopia, had surgery, and afterward a nurse told me to call them if her skin “turned pink.”
Here's Malone’s response:
“That’s the kind of thing I started to notice very early on. Almost the entirety of medicine is taught in that way. There’s a language and a culture that exists in the medical profession, because it’s been done for so many years and because we are still doing it so many years later it doesn’t seem like it’s a problem. However, like you’ve just illustrated, that’s a very problematic statement for some groups of the population because it’s just not going to happen in that way and if you’re unaware you probably won’t call the doctor.”
This is why change must happen systemically. There’s already been an ongoing conversation about how women have been excluded from a lot of medical research and for decades, medical case studies were all based on findings from male patients – and the consequences of that bias means that women have not been getting care that applies to them. The same obviously is true for people of colour, with medical science only just now doing the minimum to account for cultural and racial backgrounds and what impact that has on their health.
Angelina, who is super wealthy, has access to the best of everything, even her family was not immune to these deficiencies. And it’s hurtful, to be told that the signs to look for totally exclude you or your child. It’s important then that she’s contributing to this conversation because if it’s happening to her, it’s happening to millions, billions maybe, of other people and the consequences can be devastating.
To read her full interview with Malone Mukwende, head to TIME.